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China’s military supports the reform of Hong Kong


People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has given its backing to Beijing’s plan to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure “patriots” govern the city. Xu Qiliang, a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said at a meeting on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday 5 that China’s military would resolutely support the decision “to amend and refine the electoral system” in accordance with China’s constitution and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

“This is an important agenda of the Communist Party, the nation and Hong Kong,” Xu was quoted by PLA Daily as saying at a meeting of NPC deputies representing the PLA and the People’s Armed Police, the country’s internal security force.
“It must be done at all costs and it carries great significance,” he said. “The army resolutely supports this important decision about safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”

The NPC – China’s rubber-stamp parliament – is expected to pass a resolution that would lead to changes to the annexes of the Basic Law and severely limit the representation of dissenting voices in Hong Kong’s legislature Xia Baolong, head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last week that “those who stand in opposition to patriots are destroyers of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, and they should not be allowed to take a share the Hong Kong special administrative region’s political power”.

Premier Li Keqiang, addressing the National People’s Congress (NPC), warned the world not to interfere. The move follows the imposition of a tough security law.Critics say Beijing is crushing dissent and removing the «one country, two systems» agreement it made with the UK. Under the agreement, Hong Kong, a former British colony, was allowed to continue with its own legal system and have rights including free speech and freedom of the press.

Lord Chris Patten, former governor of Hong Kong, said China’s Communist Party had «taken the biggest step so far to obliterate Hong Kong’s freedoms and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law». The EU has warned that it may take «additional steps» over the plans announced on Friday. It called on Beijing to «carefully consider the political and economic implications on any decision to reform the electoral system of Hong Kong that would undermine fundamental freedoms, political pluralism and democratic principles».

Fears that Hong Kong’s «one country, two systems model» was being eroded led to huge pro-democracy protests in 2019. Some turned violent and Beijing imposed the National Security Law, which it said would target «sedition» and bring stability.