China weighs measure for Hong Kong election panel to pick legislature candidates

China weighs measure for Hong Kong election panel to pick legislature candidates

The roughly 3,000 members of the National People's Congress will fill Beijing's cavernous
The roughly 3,000 members of the National People's Congress will fill Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People for a week of meetings. (File photo: AFP/Leo Ramirez)

BEIJING: China's parliament is considering changes to Hong Kong's electoral committee, which selects the city's leader, as well as giving it new powers to nominate and elect candidates to the city's legislature, a senior parliament official said on Friday (Mar 5). 

The size, composition and method of formation of the Hong Kong panel would be "adjusted and improved", said Wang Chen, a vice chairman of the standing committee of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).

Wang was commenting on a draft decision by the parliament to change the electoral system in the Asian financial hub at the opening of the NPC's annual session on Friday, state news agency Xinhua said.

The electoral committee will be given new powers to elect a "relatively large" share of Legislative Council (LegCo) members and to nominate all candidates for the LegCo, Wang said.

READ: Hong Kong crafting 'patriotic' oath for local councils, Beijing wants loyalists in charge

Chinese state media has run editorials in recent weeks saying "electoral loopholes" will be plugged, while officials have said only "staunch patriots" - those loyal to the ruling Communist Party - should be involved in governing Hong Kong.

Currently, half of LegCo's 70 members are directly elected through geographical constituencies, while the other half are indirectly elected through groups representing industries, unions and professions.

Wang said Hong Kong's Chief Executive will continue to be elected by the electoral committee. This is currently its only role.

Source: Agencies/kg/dv

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