Hong Kong ‘patriots only’ legislature convenes first session

Hong Kong’s legislature convened for the first time since last month’s elections held under new laws ensuring that only “patriots” who have demonstrated loyalty to Beijing can contest. nominate.

The 90-seat Legislative Council, known as the LegCo, is now completely dominated by Beijing’s allies. Leading opposition figures are in prison, in exile or threatened with silence, and independent media outlets have been forced to shut down.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam opened the session on Wednesday, using the opportunity to criticize former lawmakers who she said were “anti-China and have tried to destabilize Hong Kong, have tried to correct politicizes council businesses and makes it difficult for LegCo to fulfill its functions. “

Since opposition legislators were expelled or resigned, the council has had a “successful year marked by the constructive relationship and interaction between LegCo and the executive authorities and members of the Legislature.” remarkable achievement,” said Lam, who along with several members of her government’s U.S. visa ban.

The elections were postponed for a year – ostensibly due to a spike in COVID-19 cases – after the opposition held elections of district advisers.

They have watched as anti-government protests spread and became increasingly violent in 2019 that led Beijing to impose sweeping National Security Laws on Hong Kong, followed by a reorganization of the election process. and transformed the structure of the Legislative Council into pro-Beijing loyalists.

Several pro-democracy activists abroad, including London-based Nathan Law, called for a boycott of the vote, saying the election was undemocratic. Under the new election law, inciting a boycott or voting invalidate ballots carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$200,000 ($26,500).

The session opened as Hong Kong grapples with a new wave of COVID-19 infections linked to the global spread of the omicron variant.

Twenty lawmakers skipped the opening session after attending a large birthday party that sparked fears of a new omicron cluster when a guest tested positive for coronavirus.

Hong Kong has also closed kindergartens and primary schools after infections were detected in students, banned flights from the United States and seven other countries and detained 2,500 cruise ship passengers to be tested for coronavirus. on Wednesday as the city works to contain the emerging omicron outbreak.

Lam seems to rule out imposing a new lock at this point.

“If we want a stricter approach, we can just stay at home – that can only be done during curfew,” Lam said. “Today I don’t think we are at a stage where we have to take more stringent measures to deal with the pandemic.”

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hong-kong-patriots-legislature-convenes-session-82218020 Hong Kong ‘patriots only’ legislature convenes first session

Emma Bowman

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