China's parliament opens with focus on Hong Kong democracy

Modesto Morganelli
Marzo 5, 2021

The Chief Executive of the HKSAR will continue to be elected by the Election Committee, and the Election Committee will be entrusted with the new function of electing a relatively large share of Legislative Council (LegCo) members and directly participating in the nomination of all candidates for the LegCo, he said.

Dozens of Hong Kong dissidents were jailed on Thursday for subversion in the broadest use yet of the security legislation enacted by Beijing previous year.

"Matters concerning the political system of HKSAR are the prerogative of the central government".

The draft changes came after the top Beijing official overseeing Hong Kong, Xia Baolong, declared that Hong Kong must be governed only by "patriots".

The government work report also said China would accelerate the use of new trading mechanisms aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing energy use, and it also promised new policies to channel more financial support to green and low-carbon development.

Hong Kong's Basic Law provides that foreigners can serve as judges and up to 20 per cent of legislators can be foreign nationals; an emphasis on patriotism would put such people in an awkward position, to put it mildly.

During last year's gathering of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China introduced a sweeping Hong Kong security law created to stifle opposition to its control of the city.

At the National People's Congress past year, China passed a resolution to introduce a national security law to crack down on what Beijing views as subversive activity in Hong Kong.

Pro-Beijing commentators have called opposition members "unpatriotic" for seeking Washington's support for their pro-democracy cause.

China has increased its defence spending by 6.8 percent, a slight uptick from previous year, amid high government debt and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic impact.

Li announced a six per cent GDP target for 2021, reversing his last year's decision not to fix the growth target for the economy which remained in a slowdown mode.

China's economy expanded just 2.3 percent in coronavirus-stunted 2020, but Li noted the country was still "the world's only major economy to achieve growth" past year.

Analysts believe China's economy could grow 8-9 percent this year.

Questioned on this year's defense budget, Zhang declined to give a figure but said the spending level was appropriate for China's security needs and to meet its worldwide obligations. In January, researchers at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute updated the way it calculates China's defense spending for 2019, estimating the Asian nation's outlay at 1.66 trillion yuan, or 38% more than the official figure.

It further emphasised strengthening its ties with the United States.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to hold a press conference on diplomatic affairs Sunday on the Congress's sidelines.

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