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Hong Kong to hold Legislative Council elections

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Hong Kong to hold Legislative Council elections

Photo: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong will hold Legislative Council (LegCo) elections today.

Originally scheduled for September 2020, these elections were postponed over COVID-19 fears—a move pro-democracy activists disputed as illegitimate. Earlier this year, controversial new electoral laws were passed, reducing the directly elected number of seats from 35 to 20, increasing pro-Beijing seats from 35 to 70 and providing for the vetting of all candidates. The laws were designed to weed out candidates deemed unpatriotic by China, leading to the arrest, imprisonment or exile of many pro-democracy leaders.

Pro-Beijing candidates are almost certain to win most, if not all, of the 90 contested seats. Consequently, pro-democracy voters are expected to boycott the vote. This result will complete Beijing’s domination of Hong Kong’s legislature—effectively ending the nominal “one country, two systems” doctrine established after the 1997 handover from the UK.

This almost certainly means the new LegCo will focus almost exclusively on economic infrastructure projects including the $18 billion Hong Kong airport expansion, designed to turn the city into an aviation hub of China’s Belt and Road network. However, government warnings issued against media organisations urging boycotts of today’s vote signals further legislative clampdowns on democratic freedoms ahead.

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