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China: Electoral reform would bring 'brighter future' for Hong Kong

China: Electoral reform would bring 'brighter future' for Hong Kong
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A top Chinese official is calling for electoral reform in Hong Kong, saying on Sunday it is necessary for a “brighter future” in the city.

Reuters reports that Chinese state councillor Wang Yi made the remarks while speaking at his annual news conference during a parliamentary session. Wang reportedly said that democracy was not present in Hong Kong during colonial times, adding that Beijing believed electoral reform would benefit the city.

“Hong Kong’s transition from chaos to governance is fully in the interests of all parties,” Wang said. "“Loving Hong Kong and patriotism are exactly the same."

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China unveiled plans last week to reform Hong Kong's electoral system, Reuters notes, with the changes expected to essentially guarantee that lawmakers loyal to Beijing are in power.

The Chinese government imposed tougher national security laws in Hong Kong last year in response to several months of pro-democracy protests. Beijing has since said that it will vet electoral candidates for Hong Kong's legislature.

Chinese authorities charged 47 pro-democracy demonstrators last week in what is believed to be the largest mass arrest under the new national security laws. The demonstrators were accused of taking part in an unofficial primary election last summer and were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden nominates his first slate of ambassadors New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' MORE has condemned the arrests, saying "political participation and freedom of expression" should not be criminalized

"We condemn the detention of and charges filed against pan-democratic candidates in Hong Kong's elections and call for their immediate release," Blinken wrote on Twitter shortly after news of the arrests broke. "The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong."