China approves system to vet Hong Kong candidates

China has approved a system to have election candidates in Hong Kong screened by public security authorities to ensure their loyalty to Beijing.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday that the National People's Congress Standing Committee unanimously passed amendments to Hong Kong's Basic Law.

The amendments call for candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive and Legislative Council to be screened by a police branch set up under the national security law for Hong Kong that went into effect last year.

The police are to report the results to a vetting committee, which would decide whether the candidates could run.
The committee's decision cannot be challenged.

The amendments also call for seats in the Legislative Council to be increased from the current 70 to 90, but for the number of directly elected lawmakers to be cut from the current 35 to 20.

Hong Kong's government plans to start working on legislation related to the Standing Committee's decision.

Media linked to the Chinese Communist Party say the new system is expected to take shape by May.

Hong Kong is scheduled to hold Legislative Council elections and choose a chief executive from later this year through the first half of 2022.

But the amendments will remove forces critical of Beijing from the political stage, virtually blocking the path toward a democratic Hong Kong.

People in Hong Kong have reacted with anger and dismay.

A man in his 70s said he won't vote anymore because it's meaningless and a waste of time.

A man in his 30s said non-patriots would be disqualified but the standards of "patriotism" are unclear.