The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on Tuesday formally approved amendments to the Hong Kong Basic Law regarding the methods for selecting Hong Kong’s chief executive and the Legislative Council, which will result in the adoption of the “432” formula for Legislative Council seats, with the number of directly elected seats in the districts being reduced to just 20. Beijing will have more power over the process of electing members of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong.
The amendments to Annexes I and II of the Hong Kong Basic Law were approved unanimously by 167 votes of all NPC Standing Committee members and took effect on March 31. A decision passed by the NPC on the 11th of this month amended Hong Kong’s electoral system to increase the number of Legislative Council seats from the original 70 to 90, with three sectors, namely the Election Committee, functional constituencies and geographical direct elections. After the amendment, the EC sector will have 40 seats, the “functional constituencies” will have 30 seats, and the district direct election will have 20 seats down from the previous 35.
The number of EC members responsible for electing the Chief Executive has been increased from 1200 to 1500, and is composed of five sectors: industrial, commercial, financial and professional sectors; grassroots, labor and religious sectors; Legislative Council members and district organizations; and representatives of Hong Kong members of the National People’s Congress, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and national organizations, each with 300 members. District Council members 117 all abolished.
The amendment also requires the establishment of a candidate eligibility committee, the Chief Executive, Legislative Council members and members of the Election Committee must pass the eligibility test, and no lawsuit may be filed against the eligibility confirmation decision made by the eligibility committee. In addition, the Election Committee will no longer include District Council members, and new patriotic and Hong Kong-loving groups will be added.
According to Radio Television Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the Hong Kong NPC, said after the vote that the 40, 30, 20 ratio of this proposal can ensure that patriots and Hong Kong lovers will enter the Legislative Council, and will allow the Legislative Council and the SAR Government to “complement each other, as well as check and balance and monitor each other” in the future, and jointly adhere to the ” One country, two systems” principle, to safeguard the authority of the Central Authorities and the provisions of the Basic Law.
In response to the NPC’s move to amend the law, the United States announced on March 16 that it had imposed financial sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, saying their actions undermined the high degree of autonomy that Hong Kong should have.