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When Beijing set out last summer to quash resistance to its rule in Hong Kong, it imposed a national security law that empowered the authorities to arrest scores of democracy advocates and sent a chill over the city.
Now, less than a year later, China wants nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of the city’s normally contentious politics.
Zhang Yesui, a senior Communist Party official, announced on Thursday that China’s national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots, which Beijing defines as people loyal to the national government and the Communist Party.
Mr. Zhang did not release details of the proposal. But Lau Siu-kai, a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership on Hong Kong policy, has said the new approach is likely to call for the creation of a government agency to vet every candidate running not only for chief executive but for the legislature and other levels of office, including neighborhood representatives.
The strategy looks set to further concentrate power in the hands of Communist Party proxies in Hong Kong and to decimate the political hopes of the territory’s already beleaguered opposition for years to come.
It would also appear to spell an end to the dream of full and open elections that has been nurtured by millions of Hong Kong residents in the years since Britain returned the territory to Chinese rule in 1997. Genuine universal suffrage — the right to direct elections — was one of the key demands of protesters during the 2019 demonstrations that engulfed the city of more than 7 million people for months.