Hong Kong’s legislature has convened for the primary time since elections final month that have been held beneath new laws guaranteeing that solely “patriots” who’ve confirmed their loyalty to Beijing might run as candidates
The 90-seat Legislative Council, generally known as LegCo, is now utterly dominated by Beijing’s allies. Main opposition figures are in jail, exile or have been intimidated into silence, and impartial media shops pressured to shut.
Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam opened Wednesday’s session, utilizing the chance to criticize former legislators who she mentioned have been “anti-China and who’ve tried to destabilize Hong Kong, had tried to politicize council companies and made it troublesome for LegCo to completely carry out its capabilities.”
Because the expulsion or resignation of opposition legislators, the council has loved a “fruitful yr marked with a constructive and interactive relationship between the LegCo and the manager authorities with outstanding achievements,” mentioned Lam, who together with a number of members of her authorities is beneath a U.S. visa ban.
The elections had been postponed for a yr — ostensibly on account of a spike in COVID-19 instances — after the opposition swept elections for district counselors.
They adopted widespread and more and more violent anti-government protests in 2019 that prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping Nationwide Safety Regulation on Hong Kong, adopted by a reorganization of the electoral course of and transformation of the make-up of the Legislative Council to stack it with pro-Beijing loyalists.
Some abroad pro-democracy activists, together with London-based Nathan Regulation, urged a boycott of the vote, saying the elections have been undemocratic. Underneath the brand new election legal guidelines, incitement to boycott voting or solid invalid votes will be punished by as much as three years in jail and a 200,000 Hong Kong greenback ($26,500) nice.
The session opened as Hong Kong struggles with a brand new wave of COVID-19 infections associated to the worldwide unfold of the omicron variant.
Twenty lawmakers skipped the opening session after becoming a member of a big birthday celebration that sparked fears of a brand new omicron cluster when a visitor examined constructive for the coronavirus.
Hong Kong has additionally closed kindergartens and first faculties after infections have been found amongst college students, banned flights from the USA and 7 different international locations and held 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship for coronavirus testing on Wednesday as the town makes an attempt to stem the rising omicron outbreak.
Lam appeared to rule out imposing a brand new lockdown right now.
“If we wish a stricter method, we might solely keep residence — it may well solely be executed with a curfew,” Lam mentioned. “At this time I don’t suppose we’re on the stage the place we now have to use stricter measures to take care of the pandemic.”