Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday passed a bill amending electoral laws that drastically reduces the public’s ability to vote and increases the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers making decisions for the city. The new law empowers the city’s national security department to check the backgrounds of potential candidates for public office and sets up a new committee to ensure candidates are "patriotic." The number of seats in Hong Kong’s legislature will be expanded to 90, with 40 of them elected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, the AP reports. The number of legislators elected directly by Hong Kong voters will be cut to 20, from the previous 35.
The bill, passed by a 40-2 vote, was met with little opposition, as most of the remaining legislators are largely pro-Beijing. Their pro-democracy colleagues resigned en masse last year in protest over the ousting of four lawmakers deemed to be insufficiently loyal to Beijing. The changes to Hong Kong’s elections come as Beijing further tightens control over the semi-autonomous city that saw months of anti-government protest and political strife in 2019. Authorities have arrested and charged most of the city’s outspoken pro-democracy advocates, such as Joshua Wong, who was a student leader of 2014 protests, as well as media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who founded the Apple Daily newspaper
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