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New Hong Kong Election Committee called on to defend national interests

By CHEN ZIMO and CHEN SHUMAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-21 07:18
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Workers are ready at the central counting station to count the votes for the 2021 Election Committee Subsector Ordinary Elections at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sept 19, 2021.[EDMOND TANG/CHINA DAILY]

The 1,500 members of the new Election Committee in Hong Kong have been encouraged to live up to people's high expectations and defend national interests when choosing the city's next leader and some members of the legislature.

Central government officials and local politicians made the remarks, hours after the results of Sunday's polling in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were announced. A total of 364 Election Committee members were elected by about 4,380 voters. They will form a new term of the Election Committee, along with ex officio members, nominees and candidates who were earlier returned uncontested.

During their five-year term, which begins on Oct 22, they will exercise enhanced power to nominate and elect the city's next chief executive as well as nominate candidates for the 90 seats in the Legislative Council and elect 40 of the lawmakers.

A spokesperson from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement that the elections are a vivid example of implementing "patriots administering Hong Kong". It was the first major election in the city since the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020 and the reform and improvement of the electoral system earlier this year.

When the new electoral system is fully functional, Hong Kong's democracy will move forward on "a sound and orderly track", the spokesperson said. By then, governance in Hong Kong will be more efficient and able to realize the people's aspirations for a better life step by step, the spokesperson added.

In a separate statement, a spokesperson for the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR said the elections laid down the rule that "anti-China saboteurs must be shut out".

For the first time, multiple stakeholders, including those from the grassroots, young people and mainland-based Hong Kong residents, sit on the Election Committee. They will safeguard national interests, the overall interests of Hong Kong and the interests of different sections of society, the spokesperson said.

To achieve the goal, the candidates have had exchanges with residents, focusing on their grievances, economic and livelihood issues, social progress and the integration of Hong Kong into the grand scheme of national development.

This requirement to reach out to the community applies equally to all Legislative Council members and chief executive candidates, said Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body.

Under the new electoral system, politicians must recognize their role as public servants to ensure that all Hong Kong people feel valued, the former chief executive of the city added. "This is the most genuine and substantial democracy," Leung said.

The Hong Kong SAR government issued a statement saying it hoped that the Election Committee, with expanded constitutional functions, will facilitate rational interaction between executive authorities and the legislature, and enhance governance efficiency.

Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said on her blog that she will arrange meetings with all 30 members of the legal subsector to explore ways to seize the opportunities arising from the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and integrate the needs of the country with the strengths of Hong Kong.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong party won the most seats on Sunday with over 150, followed by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, which secured 76 seats.

DAB Chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king announced on Monday that the party will launch a series of public campaigns to assist the Hong Kong government in achieving good governance. The party plans to canvass support and lobby for policies to solve issues such as housing affordability, the wealth gap and youth services, as well as look at ways to improve integration with the mainland. Lee is a lawmaker and ex officio member of the Election Committee.

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