HK chief announces electoral change aimed at blocking pro-democracy candidates

Hong Kong's Chief Executive John Lee has announced plans to modify the electoral system for local district council seats in line with his stance of blocking pro-democracy candidates from running in elections.

Lee revealed the plan at a news conference on Tuesday.

The proposed change will slash nine seats from the current 479 in the councils, and reduce the number of directly elected seats to 88. That would be a reduction from more than 90 percent of the seats now chosen by the public to below 20 percent.

Under the measures, authorities plan to prescreen those wishing to run to ensure candidates are what they describe as "patriots".

They would also monitor the activities of elected councilors.

Lee said the authorities must plug all the loopholes in the system to prevent the district councils from again becoming a platform for black violence, Hong Kong independence, and mutual destruction.

Among Hong Kong's past elections, ones for district councils were said to reflect public opinion in the most accurate manner. In 2019, when the elections were last held, the pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory, gaining more than 80 percent of the seats.

Hong Kong later reviewed its ordinances, introducing a requirement that district councilors pledge oaths of loyalty to the territory's government.

The number of councilors has now been reduced to a third after many of pro-democracy lawmakers resigned or were disqualified after the review.