Last week, China’s government endorsed Hong Kong’s legislature to reduce the proportion of directly elected representatives from 35 of 70 seats to just 20 of 90 seats.
Under the new law, pro-Beijing businesses and professional groups will still choose 30 seats—the so-called functional constituencies—while a government-appointed election committee will select 40 seats. On top of that, the same election committee will screen all candidates, making even the 20 directly elected seats likely to be packed with “patriotic” officials, as the government calls backers of Beijing’s harsh policies in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s current Legislative Council has rubber-stamped the changes. Last November, the body lost its effective opposition when pro-democracy members resigned en masse in protest of some of their colleagues’ expulsion under the new national security law. Even holding primaries for pro-democracy parties is now considered a violation of the law.
Hastily established before the last British administration left Hong Kong in 1997, its democracy was always imperfect, but Hong Kongers valued it nevertheless. Fierce election campaigns often produced striking rebukes to Beijing, such as the 2019 local elections that the opposition swept. The shock caused by that loss and by the city’s youth-led protest movement was so strong that Beijing appears determined never to suffer such embarrassment again.
Hong Kongers’ despondency and mistrust of their government now appear high, although crackdowns on independent polling make it hard to determine just how the public feels.
One consequence of the loss of confidence in government: Hong Kongers express among the highest levels of vaccine skepticism globally, with just 39 percent saying they would be willing to take a shot from the government. That reflects a perception that China is forcing the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines on Hong Kongers. A feeling that increased after distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong was halted over supposed safety issues. Source: : foreignpolicy.com