BEIJING — When Beijing set out last summer to quash resistance to its rule in Hong Kong, it imposed a national security law that empowered the authorities to arrest scores of democracy advocates and sent a chill over the city.
Now, less than a year later, China wants nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of the city’s normally contentious politics.
Zhang Yesui, a senior Communist Party official, announced on Thursday that China’s national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots, which Beijing defines as people loyal to the national government and the Communist Party.
Mr. Zhang did not release details of the proposal. But Lau Siu-kai, a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership on Hong Kong policy, has said the new approach is likely to call for the creation of a government agency to vet every candidate running not only for chief executive but for the legislature and other levels of office, including neighborhood representatives.
National People’s Congress, indicated that political turmoil in recent years had created the need to change the territory’s electoral system to ensure a system of “patriots governing Hong Kong.”
He defended Beijing’s right to bypass local officials in Hong Kong in enacting such legislation, just as the central government did in imposing the national security law in June. The congress will discuss a draft plan for changes to the electoral system when it gathers for a weeklong session starting on Friday.
with conspiracy to commit subversion after they organized an election primary in July.
The democracy campaigners had hoped to win a majority in the local legislature in elections last September, then block government budgets, a move that could force Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, to resign. The government later postponed those elections. But the city’s prosecutors said the activists’ strategy of trying to oust the chief executive amounted to interfering with government functions, an offense under the security law.
Opposition politicians have defended their tactics as legitimate and commonplace in democratic systems and argue that they are merely fighting to preserve the city’s relative autonomy, promised under a policy known as “one country, two systems.”