Hong Kong passes bill to revise electoral laws

Hong Kong's legislature has passed a bill to revise electoral laws in a move that could lead to the exclusion of pro-democracy forces from politics.

On Thursday, the Legislative Council amended by a majority vote the laws related to elections for Hong Kong's chief executive and lawmakers.

China decided to introduce the new election system at the National People's Congress in March. It says Hong Kong should be governed by "patriots."

Under the new system, a vetting committee will screen potential candidates. They will not be allowed to run if they are regarded as being disloyal to Beijing.

The amendments are likely to increase the number of lawmakers from pro-Beijing groups.

Potential candidates from pro-democracy forces will face difficult decisions, as they will be asked to show their support for the Chinese government.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Thursday that "the Chinese government continues to undermine the democratic institutions of Hong Kong." He said the passage of the amendments "severely constrains people in Hong Kong from meaningfully participating in their own governance and having their voices heard."