China will consider measures to improve the electoral system of Hong Kong to ensure that the Asian financial hub is governed by patriots, as the most important annual event on the country's political calendar kicks off.
The 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, will deliberate a draft decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during its fourth annual session running from March 5 to 11, according to the agenda unveiled Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, Zhang Yesui, the session's spokesperson, said the NPC has both the power and the responsibility to make the decision at the constitutional level to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR.
Calling the electoral system of the HKSAR an important part of its political structure, Zhang said what happened in recent years has proven the need to improve the system in steps with the times in order to provide a sound institutional guarantee for fully and faithfully implementing "one country, two systems" and fully implementing the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong."
Over the past weeks, legal experts and policy advisors have ramped up calls for changes to Hong Kong's electoral system to plug its loopholes.
Addressing a high-level symposium in late February, senior official on Hong Kong affairs Xia Baolong said that Hong Kong must be governed by "staunch patriots," warning of the risk of anti-China disruptors, "Hong Kong independence" elements and other radical separatists entering into the governance architecture of the HKSAR through elections.
"Members of the executive, legislative and judicial organs of the HKSAR and chief officials of its major statutory bodies must be genuine patriots," said Xia, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
The principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" was first laid down by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.
One of the root causes of the chaos afflicting the social and political arenas of Hong Kong is the fact that the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" has yet to be fully implemented, said attendees to a recent symposium held by the central authorities to hear opinions on improving systems related to the principle.
In last year's NPC annual session held in May, the legislature adopted a decision on "establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security," after months of unrest and street violence originated from an ordinance amendment bill plunged Hong Kong into the "gravest" situation since its return to the motherland in 1997.
On June 30, 2020, the NPC Standing Committee adopted the law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR before it was promulgated and enacted locally by the HKSAR government.
Lawmakers from Hong Kong attending the upcoming NPC annual session have lauded the national security law for safeguarding prosperity and stability in the city.
Condemning the violent activities in 2019 that brought "disastrous damages" to Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, said since the enforcement of the national security law, the Hong Kong society has gradually restored peace and stability.
The change has proven the necessity and significance of the law, Tam said.