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Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers left the city ahead of the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China

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China adopts decision to improve Hong Kong electoral system

BEIJING, China, March 11 – China’s top legislature Thursday adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), unveiling a series of measures that will reform how the region’s chief executive and local lawmakers are elected to ensure the financial hub is run by patriots.

The decision was endorsed by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC). Lawmakers attending the session at the Great Hall of the People burst into thunderous applause after it was passed.

It came months after the NPC Standing Committee enacted the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, which has helped Hong Kong make the transition from chaos to stability.

“The decision will help form a new democratic electoral system suited to Hong Kong’s realities and with Hong Kong characteristics,” said Qi Pengfei, a researcher on Hong Kong at the Renmin University of China.

According to the decision, the NPC Standing Committee will amend two annexes to the HKSAR Basic Law, which govern the selection method of the HKSAR chief executive and the formation method of the Legislative Council (LegCo), respectively.

To become more “broadly representative, suited to the HKSAR’s realities, and representative of the overall interests of its society,” the Election Committee of the HKSAR will be reformed in its size, composition and formation method, and will be given more power.

The Election Committee, expanded to 1,500 members from 1,200, shall be responsible for electing the Chief Executive designate and part of the members of the LegCo, as well as for nominating candidates for the Chief Executive and LegCo members, said the decision.

The LegCo shall be composed of 90 members in each term. Members of the LegCo shall include members returned by the Election Committee, those returned by functional constituencies, and those by geographical constituencies through direct elections, according to the decision.

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A candidate qualification review committee of the HKSAR will be set up to vet and confirm the qualifications of candidates for the Election Committee members, the Chief Executive, and the LegCo members.

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