Hong Kong’s Electoral Changes Pass Power to Beijing

Precious little chance of another humiliating district council election

By: Tim Hamlett

The question hovering over Hong Kong for the last 20 years has been whether it was possible for a free and more or less democratic society to endure in the front garden of a Communist dictatorship. The answer is now clearly “no.”

The latest changes to the city’s electoral arrangements dispel any erroneous notion that the machinery is intended to allow “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” - a slogan much-repeated before the 1997 handover and often afterwards as well. The purpose of the machinery is instead to transmit Beijing’s requirements to a grateful and compliant colony.

Let us start with the Election Committee. In the original Basic Law, the function of this body was to elect the Chief Executive. It was filled with representatives of various local sectors, many of whom could be trusted to follow instructions from the Liaison Office, which represents the central government in Hong Kong. Indeed, before the election of Leung Chun-ying in 2012 some of the electors complained that they had not been given clear instructions on whom to vote for.

In recent years pro-democracy forces had made some progress in getting people into this committee, culminating in their landslide win in the District Board elections of 2019. Although the boards are primarily local government bodies, they did have the right jointly to nominate 117 members to the committee…

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