US condemns China's move to alter Hong Kong's electoral system

As China prepares to alter Hong Kong's electoral system, the United States has condemned the continued assaults on the city's democratic institutions.

Speaking at the regular press briefing, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price on Friday (local time) said that bringing reforms to Hong Kong's electoral system is an attack on the region's autonomy and freedoms and the democratic processes.

"The United States condemns the PRC's [People's Republic of China] continuing assault on democratic institutions in Hong Kong," he said.

He further said, "The reforms to Hong Kong's electoral system... are a direct attack on Hong Kong's autonomy, Hong Kong's freedoms and the democratic processes, limiting participation, reducing democratic representation and stifling political debate in order to defy the clear will of the people of Hong Kong and to deny their voice in their own government."

Less than a year after imposing the draconian National Security Law, China on Thursday launched a legislative process for drastic electoral system reform in Hong Kong, which could benefit the pro-establishment camp and further smother the political opposition in the city.

China has planned a fundamental overhaul of the city's normally contentious politics, the New York Times reported.

Zhang Yesui, a senior Communist Party official, announced on Thursday that China's national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots, which Beijing defines as people loyal to the national government and the Communist Party.

Zhang did not release the details of the proposal. But Lau Siu-kai, a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership on Hong Kong policy, has said the new approach is likely to call for the creation of a government agency to vet every candidate running not only for chief executive but for the legislature and other levels of office, including neighbourhood representatives.

The New York Times reported that the strategy will further concentrate power in the hands of the Communist Party in Hong Kong and decimate the political hopes of the territory's already beleaguered opposition for years to come.

The new reforms come months after China passed the nationals security law to quash the resistance to its rule in Hong Kong.

The electoral restrictions would be likely to further smother the opposition, which has been battered by arrests and detentions since Beijing imposed the security law in June.

On Sunday, in the most forceful use of the security law so far, the police charged 47 of Hong Kong's most prominent democracy advocates with conspiracy to commit subversion after they organised an election primary in July.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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