Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, gave a speech on Monday focusing on the governance of Hong Kong.
The Communist Party government in Beijing is thought to have been concerned by pro-democracy candidates sweeping Hong Kong's local elections in 2019, and it has since claimed major flaws in the city's electoral system.
Hong Kong's current chief executive, Carrie Lam - who became immensely unpopular during the 2019 protests and the brutal police crackdown against demonstrators - applauded Beijing's decree that only "patriots" would be allowed to participate in city government, not "troublemakers".
"The urgency of the Communist Party's move suggests a worry that pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong is so strong that the party could lose control of the committee unless it disqualifies democracy advocates from serving", the NYT wrote.
Lam said Tuesday she understands why officials in Beijing "do not want the situation to deteriorate further in such a way that "one country, two systems" can not be implemented".
The Bill potentially paves the way for the mass disqualification of pro-democracy politicians who took nearly 90 per cent of 452 district council seats in Hong Kong in the 2019 elections, defeating the pro-Beijing camp. The changes would pass during an annual session of China's legislature in March, the report said.
Pro-democracy politicians made some inroads on the committee with a landslide victory in District Council elections in late 2019, increasing their share of seats on the body. That influence was eroded when the government delayed a Legislative Council election in September previous year that could have seen democracy advocates score another win. Their sway was further diminished when opposition lawmakers were disqualified and then resigned en masse late a year ago. What form electoral reform might take remains to be seen.
The "patriotism" requirement for the city's fiercely independent judiciary would be of particular concern for many in Hong Kong, as its common law-based system has been key to establish the city as a global financial hub.
Xia was quoted as saying that Hong Kong should always be governed by patriots in order to ensure the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems".
China enacted a national security law in Hong Kong previous year, cracking down on pro-democracy activists following large-scale demonstrations in 2019.
Lam said in in a news conference on Monday that reforms would not be created to limit the influence of pro-democracy politicians but that no one in government should engage in unpatriotic activities, such as colluding with foreign powers to subvert China's central government. The Hong Kong government on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require more stringent loyalty oaths from district councilors and ban candidates who are "deemed insincere or insufficiently patriotic".
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EU governments have been widely criticized by human rights activists for doing less than their US and United Kingdom counterparts while cozying up to China for an investment pact that could see European companies gain deeper access to the Chinese market.