Elections must not become tool for anti-China forces, state media says

Local | 13 Jan 2021 11:31 am

Chinese state media urged action to keep Hong Kong elections from becoming a “tool for anti-China and trouble-making forces,” raising the prospects for more measures to curb dissent in the Asian financial hub, Bloomberg reports.

The People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary Tuesday that those found to be disloyal must not be allowed to seek office.

Action could be taken next week, with the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress – the body that imposed a controversial security law last year – also announcing a surprise meeting starting January 20.

“Hong Kong is an administrative region of China,” the People’s Daily said. “‘Those who love the country and love Hong Kong should rule Hong Kong, those who are anti-China and trouble makers are out’ is a principle and bottom line that Hong Kong elections must follow.”

The commentary suggests that China’s efforts to rein in an opposition that it blames for a wave of historic and sometimes violent protests in 2019 are far from over. Besides imposing the security law in June, authorities have barred numerous candidates from office, arrested several former lawmakers and delayed an election that was planned for September.

All opposition lawmakers resigned from the local Legislative Council in protest against the actions. Earlier this month, the new national security unit of the Hong Kong police arrested 55 people in connection with an unofficial primary to choose candidates for the delayed election, an incident cited by the People’s Daily commentary as a reason for action.

China’s actions have drawn international condemnation and the U.K. and U.S. have accused Beijing of breaking its treaty obligations to preserve liberal institutions, such as legislative elections, in the former British colony. The NPC Standing Committee meeting will start the same day as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president on a platform to preserve democracies around the world.

State media reports on the upcoming NPC meeting made no mention of Hong Kong, with a draft revision of a law on animal epidemic prevention on the agenda. Still, the body has previously announced debate on issues related to Hong Kong at the last minute, such as when it took up and approved the national security law behind closed doors, with no local debate.


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