China's ceremonial parliament has approved a resolution to alter Hong Kong's election law that many see as effectively ending the city's already weakened local democracy. By a vote of 2,895-0, with one abstention, the National People’s Congress voted to give a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong’s lawmakers, reducing the proportion of those directly elected, and ensure that only those determined to be truly loyal to Beijing are allowed to run for office, the AP reports. Beijing has made it clear throughout the process that only true "patriots" will be able to sit in Hong Kong's Legislative Council, excluding government critics and anyone holding views that diverge significantly from the program laid out by Beijing.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the vote a part of China's "continuing assault on democratic institutions in Hong Kong." Repressive measures have already hamstrung the Hong Kong opposition, with almost all of its major figures either in custody or self-exile. Some 47 former legislators and other activists have been arrested on subversion charges that carry a possible maximum penalty of life in prison. The Washington Post editorial board calls the moves "the most consequential political crackdown in China since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989." "The Hong Kong repression has been more gradual and less bloody; there have been no tanks rolling through the streets," they write. "But the effect has been much the same: the crushing of a movement that could have brought peaceful democratic change to China."
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