ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Hong Kong protests

China signals electoral reform to ensure 'patriots' run Hong Kong

Key official wants Beijing-led overhaul, which could come at congress in March

Hong Kong riot police disperse protesters in September. China has suppressed the pro-democracy movement in the city, including through a national security law enacted last year.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- China must reform Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure that the city is led by true "patriots," the country's Hong Kong affairs chief said Monday, fueling speculation that Beijing will propose sweeping changes as early as next month.

"Patriots governing Hong Kong" represents the essence of the "one country, two systems" framework for the city, said Xia Baolong, head of China's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. Xia, speaking at a seminar, invoked a phrase about patriotism once used by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

"Patriots" included those who loved China, its constitution and the Communist Party and excluded anti-China "troublemakers", said Xia.

Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.   © AP

To ensure the success of the framework, Xia called for reforms covering Hong Kong's administrative, legislative and judicial organs, as well as key statutory bodies. These changes must take place under the guidance of the central Chinese government, he said. Xia did not discuss what the changes should entail or when they may occur, but he stressed that key leadership posts in Hong Kong must not go to those who oppose China or seek to sow confusion in the city.

Election reforms may be proposed at the National People's Congress session that starts in March, online news outlet HK01 reported Monday. Changes under consideration reportedly include a ban against "unpatriotic" candidates in Hong Kong elections. The Communist Party government in Beijing is thought to have been concerned by pro-democracy candidates sweeping Hong Kong's local elections in 2019, and it has since claimed major flaws in the city's electoral system.

Other possible moves by Beijing include reducing the number of individuals on the election committee that chooses Hong Kong's chief executive, or increasing the number of districts in legislative elections -- both of which likely would benefit the pro-Beijing faction.

China enacted a national security law in Hong Kong last year, cracking down on pro-democracy activists following large-scale demonstrations in 2019.

Governance by patriots is expected and necessary, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Monday, adding that potential electoral reforms are not intended to pressure any specific political groups.

Still, the possibility of electoral reforms has fueled concerns among pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

"China is trying to change the rules so pro-Beijing candidates win," one pro-democracy activist said. "I don't know if we'd even be able to take part in future elections."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more