UPDATE: Vice Premier Han urges HK to ensure upcoming elections run smoothly, patriots elected in meeting with Lam
Published: Sep 17, 2021 05:38 PM Updated: Sep 18, 2021 11:07 PM
Hong Kong Photo:VCG

Hong Kong Photo:VCG

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng on Saturday called on Hong Kong to ensure the upcoming three major elections are organized well and to uphold the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" while meeting with Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive in Shenzhen.  

The Hong Kong Election Committee subsector election, which will kick off on Sunday and is the first to be held since electoral reform was implemented, will see how the city's political air is purified and political life turns to focus on development discussions orderly rather than political warfare and even terror, which manifests the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong." 

Vice Premier Han Zheng met with Lam in Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province on Saturday, hoping that the SAR government can uphold the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong," and organize the next three major elections in accordance with the law.

The Vice Premier fully affirmed the achievements of the Hong Kong government in governing the region in accordance with the law, especially in terms of epidemic prevention and control, economic recovery, and alleviating livelihood issues.

The central government firmly supports Hong Kong in consolidating its status as an international financial center and building an international innovation and technology center. It is hoped that the SAR government will unite and lead all sectors of Hong Kong society to continue to do a good job regarding epidemic prevention and control, planning long-term development, enhancing peoples livelihoods and well-being, and consolidating stability and prosperity, Han said.

Han noted that the acceleration the opening-up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone is the nation's major decision, which will set another new height for reform and opening-up.

It is hoped that the SAR government will seize the opportunity of the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), give full play to Hong Kong's unique advantages, make good use of the central government's support policies, and continuously deepen the mutually beneficial cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland, Han said.

Carrie Lam thanked the central government's support for Hong Kong, and noted that the local government will organize the election well. She said that Hong Kong will actively participate in the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA and the development of Qianhai and promote better development of Hong Kong by integrating it into the overall development of the country.

On Sunday, 412 candidates will compete for 364 vacant seats in 13 of the 40 subsectors. Individual and corporate voters will cast their ballots at five polling stations in Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun. Candidates and elected committee members set up more than 1,000 booths on Hong Kong streets to communicate their messages to residents and solicit opinions on topics of public concern. 

Sunday's election will also be the first after the 2019 district council elections and the first of three coming elections, being followed by the LegCo elections in December and the chief executive race in March next year. 

Though the Sunday election marks a long-awaited moment, preparation work including qualification reviews conducted in advance, including the disqualification of former lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai, who was convicted in 2017 of desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags. 

Experts told the Global Times that the election marks a new chapter in Hong Kong's political life, as secessionism is finally scrubbed from the agenda, and political extremism has no space to ferment, the whole process is brought back to order, and meaningful topics to solve real problems will be discussed.

The current election system evidently only removes political fanatics like Cheng Chung-tai, Lawrence Ma, barrister and chairman at Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Newly elected lawmaker Baggio Leung (C) is restrained by security after attempting to deliver his Legislative Council (LegCo) oath in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Newly elected lawmaker Baggio Leung (C) is restrained by security after attempting to deliver his Legislative Council (LegCo) oath in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Lau Siu-Kai, deputy head of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, told the Global Times that anti-China figures and external forces backing them use the loopholes in the election system to enter Hong Kong governance body. Those figures put political stance in front of all discussions, irrationality, rumors, assaults and violence become norms.

But the situation completely changed when the anti-China figures were filtered out of the system, these forces are no longer able to instigate conflicts and ferment split. Topics discussed in following Hong Kong elections will be practical, including how can Hong Kong get better integrated into the national development blueprint, and how to improve livelihoods, Lau said.  

With the Sunday subsection election as a starting point, the revised Hong Kong elections are expected to bring more balanced participation and broader representation of society at the Election Committee, which has expanded from 1,200 to 1,500 members and is responsible for nominating candidates and electing Hong Kong chief executive and the 90-member Legislative Council. 

Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, noted whether the Election Committee is representative and is not based on how many candidates were valid in the process, but how different sectors and districts can have their voices heard. 

More professions, industries and districts joining the process will form an Election Committee that can consider and vote (for executive chief and LegCo members) out of a broader vision, Tang told the Global Times.  

Barrister Ma took the legal section election as an example, saying the candidates well represent all segments of lawyers (juniors, senior-juniors, and seniors).  It is also about gender-balance. There are candidates from the pro-establishment camp and candidates from the pan-democrat camp. All of them may have very different view on an issue but they are all patriots.

Some Western media attacked the upcoming elections, citing a sharp drop of eligible subsection election candidates. But observers noted an Election Committee cannot be called representative if the selected only discuss topics catering to their political interests instead of voters' concerns.

In line with the electoral reform, many national organizations' Hong Kong representatives are included in the fifth subsection, and they are expected to enhance the connections and communications between the mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, observers have noted. 

In the past, elections mean chaos and farces for Hong Kong, and there were black terror against patriot district councilor candidates in 2019. The elections have become a tool of some rioters and external forces to jeopardize national security and social stability in Hong Kong. 

Now elections returned to fulfil their original function of serving the society. Western attempts to cultivate agents in Hong Kong governance body and incite color revolution have gone completely bankrupt, analysts said.