Hong Kong residents vote in election designed so that ‘only patriots’ prevail
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The tightening grip of Chinese-state power comes as President Xi Jinping continues his full takeover of Hong Kong’s democracy as China pulls the country further under its influence. It comes as pro-democracy candidates are virtually absent from the first election since China took control of the city’s electoral system. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the move is “improving” the electoral system to ensure “patriots administer Hong Kong” as the reality of China’s geopolitical ambitions comes to the fore.
Reporting from Hong Kong, France24’s Oliver Farry said how even before voting got underway this weekend the bets were “pretty much stacked in favour of pro-Beijing parties”.
He added this was to ensure the city does not get ruled by somebody who is a “little less favoured” by the government in China.
Mr Farry added how the proposed “improvements” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks of were already taking place anyway even despite efforts by pro-democracy groups in recent months.
But he said efforts have been in vain as given the iron grip on power China now has in Hong Kong.
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He said: “We have to remember that 47 candidates for the legislative council elections which will finally take place in December are currently in prison charged under the national security law!
“Mainly for taking part in primary elections, so this is very much the first test for Hong Kong’s new law.
“It is not much of an election in any sense of the word but it will be a bellwether.”
The correspondent stressed how the votes cast for the election committee are vital as they will select the future Chief Executive of Hong Kong in next March’s elections.
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The committee will also send 40 members to the newly expanded Legislative Council which will be filled with pro-China representatives.
And in a deeply disturbing admission, Mr Farry said the latest developments need to be seen as a “quadruple lock” to ensure that pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong do not get anywhere near a foothold in power in Hong Kong again.
Changes to the political system are the latest in a string of moves by Beijing which include the new national security law that punishes anything Beijing deems as subversion, secession, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces – that have placed Hong Kong on an authoritarian path.
China’s parliament in May changed Hong Kong’s electoral system, massively reducing democratic representation in institutions and introducing the vetting mechanism for election candidates and winners.
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The changes have meant virtually no influence can be exerted by the political opposition.
On Sunday, Carrie Lam told a press conference: “I doubt very much that another government or country will allow the public election to their local legislature of people whose mission is to undermine the national interest or national security.”
It comes as the most prominent democratic activists and politicians are now in jail or have fled abroad fearing for their lives as China wreaks havoc on the former democracy praised for its financial institutions and being a hub of global trade.
Police have also ramped up security across the city, with Reuters reporting 6,000 officers are expected to be deployed to ensure a smooth vote. 4,900 people are expected to cast ballots in the deeply controversial vote.
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