Lam gives support to electoral changes in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong's Carrie Lam strongly backed the electoral reforms Tuesday in the semi-autonomous region, a day after a top Beijing official proposed crucial improvements to ensure "patriots" are running.

Lam said political tensions and chaos in the capital, including anti-government demonstrations in 2019 and riots in 2014, had shown that some citizens in China were still "rather hostile."

"I can understand that Central Authorities are extremely concerned and do not want a further deterioration in the situation, so that 'one country, two systems' cannot be implemented," Lam said in a daily news conference.

The framework of 'one nation - two systems' requires human liberties in Hong Kong that are not found on the mainland, as they were promised after the territory had reverted from British to Chinese restrictions in 1997.

She commented one day after Xia Baolong, head of the Hong Kong and the Macao Council's State Bureau, said that "patriots," except those who petition other countries for international sanctions or "disturbances," should only govern Hong Kong.

The electoral reforms are set to be debated and probably implemented at the National Congress of the People, the rubber-stamp Chinese legislature and the Chinese People's Parliamentary Advisory Conference next month.

They are likely to take the form of a redeployment of votes within the 1200-member electoral committee which elects Hong Kong's Chief Executive, subject to the veto of Beijing. Elected district councilors, many of whom oppose Beijing, are among the most vulnerable to losing their voting rights.

It is uncertain if in next year's poll Lam, which is widely unpopular among the population of Hong Kong, will seek a second five-year term.

Another likelihood is that China will close what it terms "loopholes" as it wins for members of the Legislative Council, who are now entirely dominated by pro-Peijing politicians, after opposition leaders resigned en masse last year after four had been ousted for insufficient allegiance to the government.