“Western allies condemned Hong Kong’s “patriots only” legislature vote on Monday, saying new rules imposed by Beijing that reduced directly elected seats and controlled who could stand had “eliminated” opposition.
It imposed a national security law that criminalised much dissent and introduced political rules that vet the loyalty of anyone standing for office.
The first public vote under this new order was held on Sunday for the city’s legislature, with a historic low turnout recorded and the number of those directly elected slashed from half to 22 percent.
Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand rebuked the new system in a coordinated joint statement.
“These changes eliminated any meaningful political opposition,” the five allies said.
“We also remain gravely concerned at the wider chilling effect of the National Security Law and the growing restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which are being felt across civil society,” they added.
‘Can’t copy West’
China called on Hong Kongers to embrace the new rules that they say will restore stability and root out disruptive “anti-China” elements for good.
But figures showed just 30 percent of the electorate cast ballots, the lowest rate both of the period since the city’s 1997 handover to China and the British colonial era.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam defended the new system and brushed off the low turnout.
“Hong Kong is now back on the right track,” she told reporters.
Think about this- from the AP
Stacey Abrams, who built her national reputation by advocating for voting rights, is calling on Congress to take action on federal voting rules as the Democrat launches a second bid to become Georgia’s governor.
Senators including Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock, Abrams’ close ally, have been arguing in recent days that the Senate must try again on federal voting standards, despite earlier setbacks.
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Abrams said senators need to override Republican opposition to new federal voting guarantees by weakening the legislation-blocking filibuster to allow the Democrats’ bare majority to pass new rules. Otherwise, Abrams said, more Republican-dominated state legislatures nationwide will adopt voting restrictions like Georgia did this year.
JUST IN: A statement from the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and US condemns the “patriots only” polls in #HongKong
— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) December 20, 2021
“China claimed credit on Monday for developing democracy in Hong Kong’s in a white paper issued hours after the city’s first Legislative Council election under a Beijing-decreed system produced a record low turnout and just one non-establishment member.
The “improved” electoral system provided “advantageous conditions” for the ultimate goal of implementing universal suffrage, according to Beijing’s white paper published after the city’s first “patriots-only” legislative race.”
The policy document said China’s Communist Party “has championed whole-process people’s democracy in China, and this has laid the groundwork for developing democracy in Hong Kong under the framework of One Country, Two Systems.”
The white paper was published by the State Council’s Information Office.
Sunday’s election, it said, was characterized by “wide representation,” “political inclusiveness,” “balanced participation,” and a “fair competition.”