In 2014, Hong Kong rejected a proposed ‘universal suffrage’ system because the CCP would have chosen who goes on the ballot for Chief Executive. In 2021, Beijing officially passes its ‘improvements’ to Hong Kong’s election system and assumes control of who goes on all ballots.
The attention-grabbing features are: a) all candidates will have to be pre-approved by a committee; and b) the proportion of Legislative Council seats elected by the public will be drastically reduced, while a new, much larger bloc of lawmakers, will (in effect) be appointed by Beijing.
The SCMP mentions that the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will have an odd number of members in order to avoid any tied votes. What the story doesn’t say is that this idiotic detail is aimed at diverting your attention from what is actually happening: the committee – like the bodies whose candidates it vets – will be a rubber-stamp, taking orders from Beijing’s officials, via the NatSec shadow-government and the HK Police NatSec and Art Censorship Dept. (The committee will comprise senior government officials ‘trusted’ by Beijing. If the idea of a government and the cops vetting election candidates sounds weird, don’t worry – it’s all for show.)
The Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR shall, on the basis of the review by the department for safeguarding national security of the Police Force of the HKSAR, make findings as to whether a candidate for member of the Legislative Council meets the legal requirements and conditions of upholding the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and swearing allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and issue an opinion to the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee of the HKSAR in respect of a candidate who fails to meet such legal requirements and conditions.
In short, no pan-dems (give or take a stooge or two) will be allowed to run. However, the absurd overkill in the new framework – both vetting of candidates and addition of a large number of appointed LegCo seats – indicates that the idea is also to threaten pro-Beijing figures with vetting, and in any case to dilute their numbers in the legislature. This is essentially Beijing shoving everyone aside and taking full control over the legislature, thus rendering it a pure rubber stamp (as it has with the Executive branch).
Not content with the headline ‘improvements’, Beijing is also reducing the role of human voters in some functional constituencies by boosting the presence of corporate votes (though FC candidates will also be vetted), and replacing district council members on the CE Election Committee with appointees (in the guise of district fight-crime and other boards). Geeks will be fascinated to hear that the LegCo elections will use the ‘binomial’ voting system, but the rest of us can ignore it. (OK – if you must.)
The details of all this are tedious – but to repeat: that is deliberate. The idea is to make it look like there is a real process at work when in fact, behind the scenes, all outcomes are decided in advance by Beijing’s officials. Elections in Hong Kong are now, finally, so painstakingly rigged that they might as well not happen.