China finally decided on a radical reform of the electoral system in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

The number of parliamentary seats will be expanded from seventy to ninety, while citizens will be allowed to directly elect only twenty parliamentarians.

Previously, there were 35.

The reforms are seen as a way of further sidelining the city's pro-democratic opposition.

An electoral college, the Election Committee, will soon decide to whom 40 of the parliamentary seats will go that will not be distributed through elections.

That college is seen as pro-Beijing and also chooses the city's highest-ranking administrator.

The composition of the Election Committee will also be overhauled.

In that electoral college there are now 117 local politicians from Hong Kong, but their seats will expire, according to politician Tam Yiu-chung.

These politicians are directly elected and often belong to the opposition camp.

Whoever wants to participate in elections must also undergo some sort of inspection.

A committee then checks whether candidates have the correct political views.

Politician Tam says the state security department of the police is also involved.

It will provide information about candidates.

Most drastic electoral reform since 1997

The Standing Committee of the Chinese Parliament unanimously decided to approve the plans.

Then there was extensive applause, politician Tam told the

South China Morning Post

newspaper

.

President Xi Jinping has also approved the reforms, according to state media.

According to the newspaper, this is the most drastic and controversial reform of the electoral system in the metropolis since 1997. The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to the Communist People's Republic in that year.

It promised that the metropolis would receive autonomous status for another half century.

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