A Beijing academic has said that Hong Kong will have a new election law with the national security law and the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” at its heart. He added that adopting the new law will be “an important challenge” to both Hong Kong’s pro-establishment and opposition camps.

Tian Feilong, associate law professor at Beihang University and member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, wrote in Ming Pao on Wednesday that “patriots governing Hong Kong” represents “the rebirth of Hong Kong democracy.”

Tian Feilong. Photo: Beihang University.

“[T]his time, the Central Government’s institutional reform in the realm of national security and election security… will not be small amendments, but structural and systemic institutional reforms – a rich development to ‘one country, two systems’ and the order of the Basic Law,” he wrote, ahead of the Two Sessions legislative meeting on Thursday.

“To the pro-establishment camp, ‘patriots governing Hong Kong’ not only provide more seats and jobs, but also raise the requirements on their abilities to serve Hong Kong and the country…” said Tian. “The new system will be stricter.”

“The Central government wants to hone capable patriots, not rubber stamps or loyal idiots.”

‘Love’ vs. ‘respect’

Tian went on to say that the new law will be both “an opportunity and challenge” in that centrists and “mild” pan-democrats will have new room to operate: “In terms of opportunities, [the non-establishment camp] can rightfully divide from the radicals, and return to the rational realm of a loyal opposition camp…”

The opposition will face challenges in attempting to be patriotic while maintaining a level of loyalty, he said, adding that that they should try to be a “constructive pro-democracy camp”

The Chinese Communist star emblem is displayed on a ceiling during the closing ceremony of the Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File Photo: Mark Palston/AFP.

He also said that being patriotic does not necessarily mean loving the party: “Being patriotic includes being respectful to the leadership of the party, because the leadership of the party is a core element of the country… But that does not equate to asking one to love the party, because loving the party is the duty of party members.”

The comments came after Chinese state media reported that “electoral loopholes” will be plugged to make sure that only those loyal to Beijing govern Hong Kong ahead of the annual plenary meetings in Beijing.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.