The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has given its backing to Beijing’s plan to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure “patriots” govern the city.
Xu Qiliang, a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, said at a meeting on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday that China’s military would resolutely support the decision “to amend and refine the electoral system” in accordance with China’s constitution and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
“This is an important agenda of the Communist Party, the nation and Hong Kong,” Xu was quoted by PLA Daily as saying at a meeting of NPC deputies representing the PLA and the People’s Armed Police, the country’s internal security force.
“It must be done at all costs and it carries great significance,” he said. “The army resolutely supports this important decision about safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The NPC – China’s rubber-stamp parliament – is expected to pass a resolution that would lead to changes to the annexes of the Basic Law and severely limit the representation of dissenting voices in Hong Kong’s legislature.
Xia Baolong, head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last week that “those who stand in opposition to patriots are destroyers of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, and they should not be allowed to take a share the Hong Kong special administrative region’s political power”.
Beijing’s preparations for the overhaul have already prompted protests from Western governments that say the changes would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and the “one country, two systems” model.
Also at the meeting, Xu urged NPC deputies to strengthen work in areas such as training and war preparedness, reform and innovation, and promoting Communist Party leadership within the armed forces.