China’s parliament approved on Thursday a draft decision to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, further reducing democratic representation in the city’s institutions and introducing a mechanism to vet and screen politicians’ loyalty to Beijing.
The measures are part of Beijing’s efforts to consolidate its increasingly authoritarian grip over the global financial hub, following the imposition of a sweeping national security law in June, which critics see as a tool to crush dissent.
Beijing is responding to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019, which it saw as a threat to China’s national security. Since then, most high-profile democratic politicians and activists have been sent to jail or are in self-exile.
The changes virtually eliminate any possibility of the opposition affecting the outcome of elections in the former British colony, whose return to Chinese rule in 1997 came with a promise of a high degree of autonomy.