The 2021 Election Committee's subsector ordinary elections in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will be held on Sept. 19.
As the first practice of improving Hong Kong's electoral system, the elections will lay a solid foundation for the implementation of the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and the central authorities' overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR, and usher in a new future of greater prosperity for Hong Kong that has returned to stability from chaos.
On March 11, a decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).
According to the decision, the Election Committee, expanded to 1,500 members of five sectors, shall be responsible for electing the Chief Executive designate and part of the members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), as well as for nominating candidates for the Chief Executive and LegCo members.
Expanded from four sectors to five, the Election Committee has new representatives of Hong Kong members of related national organizations.
Observers believe the Election Committee will have broad representation and balanced public participation, which can better reflect the voice of the majority of Hong Kong residents and respond to their demands.
Li Huan, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Hong Kong and Macao Studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said there is an urgent need to address Hong Kong's deep-seated problems that have become more prominent in recent years, citing major livelihood issues in housing, land, employment and incomes.
The new Election Committee can better represent the interests of the grassroots, Li noted.
Out of the 1,500 seats of the Election Committee, 325 people were determined to be validly registered as ex-officio members, 156 persons were validly nominated to be members of the Election Committee and 603 candidates would be uncontested while 412 candidates would contest in the Election Committee Subsector Ordinary Elections to be held on Sept. 19 for 364 seats.
Since the 2014 illegal "Occupy Central" movement, and especially after the disturbances in 2019, Hong Kong has been embroiled in continuous political disputes and even a governance crisis. "Pan-politicization" has become a factor hindering Hong Kong's stable development and even jeopardizing national security.
The anti-China forces manipulated various political issues and instigated disputes and rifts to force people to choose a certain political identity, said Yip Kin-ming, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee member from Hong Kong.
"The pan-politicization has blinded the Hong Kong society and hindered the improvement of the economy and people's livelihood," Ye stressed, noting that only by removing pan-politicization and radicalization can Hong Kong get back on track.
In the past, elections in Hong Kong always descended into chaos and were used by external anti-China forces to endanger national security and undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. In the latest 2019 District Council election, the "black terror" violence went rampant and political gains were sought through unfair elections.
Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, anti-China forces from the United States and other Western countries have been cultivating "political agents" in Hong Kong and taking Hong Kong as a subversive base for a "color revolution", which seriously undermined Hong Kong's democracy, freedom and high degree of autonomy.
Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, said improving the electoral system of the HKSAR has plugged the institutional loophole for those anti-China elements to take advantage of elections to enter the governance structure of the HKSAR.
After the improvement of the electoral system, Hong Kong's administration team will be able to concentrate on pursuing development and benefiting the people, and resolve the deep-seated problems impairing Hong Kong's development, Tu Haiming, chairman of the Hong Kong New Era Development Thinktank and also a member of the CPPCC National Committee, said.
ELECT THE CAPABLE
With the new electoral system, a patriotic, capable and responsible administration team will be elected so that the Hong Kong economy and the people's livelihood can be improved and the financial hub can sharpen its global competitiveness and regain its glory.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the city's largest political group, has over 100 members running for the membership of the Election Committee. About 50 of them are ex-officio members or will be elected uncontested.
DAB chairperson Starry Lee expects the Election Committee to succeed in completing the task of nominating and electing the next HKSAR Chief Executive and new LegCo members.
"The 1,500 Election Committee members will elect the capable and the competent," Maria Tam, deputy director of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the NPC Standing Committee, said. "They will work to ensure that the future chief executive and LegCo members are more resourceful to solve Hong Kong's deep-seated problems and help the city find a way out (of the dilemma)."
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam also expressed her optimism. "After social stability and political security are guaranteed, I'm confident that Hong Kong will have a better future with greater progress in the economy, people's livelihood and social development," she said.
From the national security legislation in Hong Kong to improvements to its electoral system, the policies implemented by the central authorities over the past years are aimed at safeguarding the fundamental well-being of Hong Kong residents, pushing for the SAR's long-term prosperity and stability, and facilitating the enduring success of "one country, two systems."
A new plan was issued recently by the central authorities for comprehensively deepening the reform and opening up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, which created more opportunities and a broader arena for Hong Kong to make better use of its advantages and integrate into the national development landscape.
"The biggest opportunity in the world is in China and the biggest opportunity for Hong Kong is in the mainland," Luo said, urging Hong Kong to actively seize the new wave of historic opportunities.
"We firmly believe that Hong Kong will forge new advantages and make new contributions in the process of further integrating into the national development," he said.