The Japanese government on Friday said it is increasingly and gravely concerned over Hong Kong after the city’s legislature approved an electoral overhaul ordered by China to ensure Beijing’s loyalist govern the city.
“We are increasingly and gravely concerned about the impact on the freedom of speech and media, which have served as the basis for the democratic and stable development that had benefited Hong Kong,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato at a news conference.
Kato added Japan will convey its thoughts and concerns to China while closely working with the international community, Kyodo News reported.
On Thursday, the Hong Kong Legislative Council has approved the controversial bill to reform the city’s electoral system, which is set to increase the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers in the city and reduces the public’s ability to choose elected representatives.
The reforms allow the city’s national security department to carry out background checks to ensure candidates for public office are “patriotic”. Besides this, the Legislative Council will also be expanded to 90 seats from 70 through this law.
This comes after China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in March had passed the resolution by a near-unanimous vote, paving the way for the biggest shake-up to the city’s electoral system since its return to China in 1997.
Under the new electoral system, NPC members and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body, will be part of the Election Committee in the selection process of the city’s leader next year, reported Xinhua.
The United States has also expressed concerns over the reforms, saying the Chinese government continues to undermine the democratic institutions of Hong Kong and denies the residents the rights that China itself has guaranteed.
Decreasing Hong Kong residents’ electoral representation will not foster long-term political and social stability for Hong Kong. This legislation defies the Basic Law’s clear acknowledgement that the ultimate objective is the election of all members of the LegCo by universal suffrage,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. (ANI)