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China People's Congress

Hong Kong election reform key to 'one country, two systems': Beijing

Chinese advisory body emphasizes 'patriot' rule in territory ahead of meeting

Pro-democracy activists campaign for a primary election in Hong Kong in July 2020. Electoral reforms in the territory could bar candidates who are not loyal to the central Chinese government from running in future races.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Electoral reform in Hong Kong is a necessary step to ensure the "one country, two systems" framework develops in the right direction, a spokesperson for China's top advisory body said Wednesday, as Beijing doubles down against dissent in the territory.

Guo Weimin, spokesperson for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, spoke to reporters ahead of the body's weeklong session that begins Thursday.

Together with the annual National People's Congress, which begins its session on Friday, the conference provides insights into China's political and economic priorities for the year.

China is expected to propose sweeping electoral reforms in Hong Kong at the upcoming NPC, which could limit top leadership positions in the city to "patriots" who support the Chinese Communist Party, and bar pro-democracy figures from running in future elections. "Patriots governing Hong Kong" is the essence of "one country, two systems," Guo said.

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists staged widespread protests in the territory over the past two years, calling for universal suffrage among other demands. China has cracked down on the movement, passing a national security law in Hong Kong in June aimed at quelling dissent in the former British colony.

Regarding international calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over China's treatment of its Uyghur minority, Guo said such moves go against the spirit of the Olympic Charter and will not gain widespread global support.

Guo also said new data privacy legislation has been submitted to the NPC Standing Committee. As the number of internet users rise, China has seen an increase in disputes over data collection and usage in face recognition and other technologies. The new legislation would impose strict restrictions on transferring user data outside of China, which could affect the operations of foreign companies in the country.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference meeting traditionally starts on March 3 and lasts for about 10 days. It will run slightly short this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

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