Hong Kong Votes for Legislature With Beijing Loyalists Approved to Run

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By NTD Newsroom
December 19, 2021Hong Kong
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Hong Kong Votes for Legislature With Beijing Loyalists Approved to Run
A voter leaves a polling station during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong's Choi Hung area, on Dec. 19, 2021. (Bertha Wang/AFP via Getty Images)

The people of Hong Kong voted on Dec. 19 in the Legislative Council election, the first after Beijing changed its electoral system to cut down directly elected lawmakers and vet candidates.

The move saw a drop in public enthusiasm during the election.

About 4.5 million residents are eligible to vote. Yet the latest survey by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute found almost 40 percent of respondents indicated that they are unlikely to vote, the lowest point in decades.

The Registration and Electoral Office announced in the afternoon that the turnout rate for the 10 geographical constituencies in Hong Kong was about 21 percent as of 4:30 p.m. local time, lower than the 31 percent of the last Legislative Council election in 2016.

The rate also fell far behind the 52 percent turnout rate by 4:30 p.m. of the district council election in 2019, after huge pro-democracy protests against the Chinese regime’s encroachment rocked the city. Security forces later crushed the movements and implemented a sweeping national security law to silence opposition activists.

This year’s election saw Hong Kong’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, fielding no candidates, as the central regime of China pushed to secure more political power for Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong.

Last year, the local government postponed the elections—which were to take place in September—citing public health risks due to the pandemic. Yet pro-democracy critics accused it of being an excuse to delay the vote.

The following year, China’s rubber-stamp legislature approved in March electoral changes for Hong Kong, which would effectively bar democratic representatives from occupying key positions, in a bid to have only “patriots” to run for the office and govern the city.

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The Chinese national emblem hanging on the wall replaces the former Hong Kong emblem at the Legislative chamber in Hong Kong, on Dec. 17, 2021. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

The move expanded the size of the chamber from 70 to 90 seats, with members of the Election Committee, a strongly pro-Beijing body responsible for electing the chief executive, making up 40 of those. Another 30 seats are elected by business groupings known as “functional constituencies.”

The number of directly elected representatives was reduced from 35 to 20. Five seats elected from among district councilors were abolished altogether.

The move means the proportion of lawmakers that are to be voted for by the people reduced from 50 percent to 22 percent.

On Dec. 18, Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Minister Erick Tsang warned that foreign forces may be attempting to undermine the elections after overseas activists urged a boycott of the vote. Under the new election laws, incitement to boycott and casting invalid votes can lead to up to three years in jail and a HK$200,000 ($26,500) fine.

Prior to the Sunday election, people advocating for blank votes on social media were arrested under the national security law.

To encourage the vote, authorities also offered free public transport on election day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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