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New system ensures HK prosperity

By ZHANG YANGFEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-05-10 09:49
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Photo taken on July 14, 2020 shows the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

Electoral reforms guarantee patriots govern special administrative region

The reformed electoral system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can effectively guarantee "one country, two systems", that patriots govern Hong Kong, as well as the region's future prosperity and stability, experts said.

John Lee Ka-chiu won the election for the chief executive of the region on Sunday after receiving 1,416 votes from members of the election committee, far exceeding the threshold of 750 votes required to win the election. After being approved by the central government, he will take the oath of office on July 1.

It was the first chief executive election following the reform of Hong Kong's electoral system with amendments to the Annex I and II of the Basic Law in March 2021, which detail the election methodology for the chief executive and legislative council.

Under the new system, the size of the election committee, responsible for selecting the chief executive and some LegCo members, was increased from 1,200 to 1,500 seats. The election committee members were selected from different segments of society, from professionals to grassroots workers.

A candidate eligibility review committee was set up to vet the qualifications of candidates.

Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's Law School in Beijing, said the new electoral system aims to ensure patriots administer Hong Kong, so there are conditions and standards set in law for the eligibility criteria of candidates.

He said the focus of the election was on Lee's policies, communication with voters and various functional sectors, policy platform, as well as how he understands "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong's international position.

"These aspects were addressed in his election manifesto released on April 29, from which we can see a new political style that is balanced, pragmatic and result-oriented," he said.

En route to being successfully elected, Lee was in constant communication with the election committee members, held campaign rallies and collected advice from different sectors.

"This is a democratic process itself. Democracy is not only about voting but must be reflected in all aspects," said Li Xiaobing, an associate professor at Nankai University School of Law in Tianjin.

Li said Lee stood out with his rich experience in the governance of Hong Kong.

"At such a special moment for Hong Kong, there is indeed a need for such a leader who can guide and gather opinions of all parties," he said.

Following the reform of the electoral system, Hong Kong successfully held the election committee subsector elections in September and elected its seventh LegCo in December.

"The three elections on the whole take place at a point where Hong Kong has moved from unrest to stable governance and is moving from governance to prosperity, and the reformed electoral system plays a key role in restoring Hong Kong's political order," he said.

Tian said the new electoral system emphasizes balanced participation, reflected in a reasonable political representation, as well as a balance between the interests of the whole.

The system has only one requirement for all candidates which is they must be patriots. On the basis of satisfying the patriot requirement, all political talent interested in politics and serving Hong Kong and the country can run in the election. "It shows its political inclusiveness," he said.

Tian said "patriots governing Hong Kong" also ensures a fair election that excludes extreme anti-China and disruptive forces, so that the election is not about a fundamental conflict of interests, but about solving real problems concerning Hong Kong's long-term interests and the interests of each individual.

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