March 12, 2021 | Issue 2021-15| Click to Subscribe
China adopts decision to improve Hong Kong electoral system
The National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on Thursday adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The decision was passed by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th NPC.

The decision is another major step taken by the state to improve the HKSAR's legal and political systems since the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR was adopted in June 2020.

The decision has nine articles:
- Improving the electoral system of the HKSAR must fully and faithfully implement the policy of "One Country, Two Systems" under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy, uphold the constitutional order in the HKSAR as established by the Constitution and the Basic Law, ensure the administration of Hong Kong by Hong Kong people with patriots as the main body, effectively improve the governance efficacy of the HKSAR, and safeguard the right to vote and the right to stand for election of permanent residents of the HKSAR.

- The HKSAR shall establish an Election Committee which is broadly representative, suited to the HKSAR's realities and representative of the overall interests of its society. The Election Committee shall be responsible for electing the Chief Executive designate and part of the members of the LegCo. The Election Committee shall also be responsible for nominating candidates for the Chief Executive and LegCo members, as well as for other matters. The Election Committee shall be composed of 1,500 members from the following five sectors: industrial, commercial and financial sectors; the professions; grassroots, labor, religious and other sectors; LegCo members and representatives of district organizations; Hong Kong deputies to the NPC, Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and representatives of Hong Kong members of related national organizations.

- The Chief Executive shall be elected by the Election Committee and appointed by the Central People's Government. Candidates for the office of the Chief Executive shall be nominated jointly by not less than 188 members of the Election Committee, among whom the number of members of each sector should be not less than 15. The Election Committee shall elect the Chief Executive designate by secret ballot on a one-person-one-vote basis. The election of the Chief Executive designate shall require a simple majority vote of all the members of the Election Committee.

- The LegCo of the HKSAR shall be composed of 90 members in each term. Members of the LegCo shall include members returned by the Election Committee, those returned by functional constituencies, and those by geographical constituencies through direct elections.

- A candidate qualification review committee of the HKSAR shall be established. The committee shall be responsible for reviewing and confirming the qualifications of candidates for the Election Committee members, the Chief Executive, and LegCo members. The HKSAR shall improve the system and mechanisms related to qualification review, to ensure that the qualifications of candidates are in conformity with the Basic Law, the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, the NPC Standing Committee's interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, the NPC Standing Committee's decision on the qualification of HKSAR LegCo members, and provisions of relevant local laws of the HKSAR.

- The NPC Standing Committee is authorized to, in accordance with the decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR, amend Annex I: Method for the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Annex II: Method for the Formation of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Its Voting Procedures, to the Basic Law.

- In accordance with the decision and the Basic Law's Annex I and Annex II amended by the NPC Standing Committee, the HKSAR shall amend relevant local laws, and organize and regulate election activities accordingly.

- The Chief Executive of the HKSAR shall submit in a timely manner reports to the Central People's Government on relevant important situations including the institutional arrangements for elections of the HKSAR and the organization of the elections.

- The decision shall go into effect as of the date of promulgation. 
Premier Li Keqiang stresses the importance of improving HKSAR's electoral system

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's electoral system needs to be improved to ensure steady development of "One Country, Two Systems."

He made the remarks when taking a reporter's question during a virtual press conference after the closing of the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress.
"The purpose of the decision is clear," Li said, stressing that Hong Kong must be administered by patriots.

"We will continue to act in strict accordance with the constitution and the Basic Law and fully support the HKSAR government and its chief executive in exercising law-based governance," he continued.

Noting that Hong Kong was hit by multiple shocks last year, Li pledged that the central government will continue to give its full support and called for unity for the economic recovery.

"We hope that people from all walks of life in Hong Kong will join hands to overcome the epidemic at an early date, to achieve economic recovery, improve people's livelihood and maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong," he said.
China, U.S. top diplomats to meet in Alaska
China's top diplomats will hold a high-level strategic dialogue with their U.S. counterparts in Alaska on March 18 and 19 at the invitation of the U.S. side, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian confirmed Thursday.

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will attend the meeting scheduled to be held in Anchorage.
MFA Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Remarks on U.S. Secretary of State Blinken's Statement

Q: On March 10 at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken talked about his views on the upcoming high-level strategic dialogue between China and the United States. Do you have any comments?

Zhao Lijian: China, invited by the United States, will have a high-level strategic dialogue with the U.S. side in the coming days. China's position on China-US relations is clear. We ask the United States to view China and China-US relations in an objective and rational manner, reject the Cold-War and zero-sum game mentality, respect China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs. It should follow the spirit of the phone call between the Chinese and U.S. presidents, focus on cooperation, manage differences, and bring the China-US relationship back to the right track of sound and steady development.