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China's parliament to delay Hong Kong legislative vote, overhaul electoral system

China's parliament to delay Hong Kong legislative vote, overhaul electoral system”

HONG KONG-A court hearing for 47 democracy activists charged under Hong Kong's national security law was set to resume Tuesday after a marathon session that was adjourned well past midnight after one defendant appeared to collapse and was taken away in an ambulance.

A year ago the city fell from the top spot for the first time, replaced by rival Singapore, after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

China had committed to giving Hong Kong a degree of autonomy when it reverted from British colonial rule in 1997.

A Hong Kong government spokesman backed the prospect of electoral changes, saying that only through "patriots governing Hong Kong" could the Central Government's overall jurisdiction be implemented, securing the stability of the city.

But he broke with precedent previous year, providing no benchmark due to the "great uncertainty" of the pandemic, which also had pushed back the legislative session for two months, the first delay in decades.

Last July, pro-democratic activists organized an informal primary poll to pick legislative candidates with the most public support - an action Hong Kong officials called potentially a subversive.

Official news agency Xinhua said the National People's Congress (NPC) would deliberate a draft decision on "improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region".

"We will strengthen unity and friendship with our compatriots overseas and in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and conduct studies and consultations on fostering patriotism among young people in Hong Kong and Macao", Wang told delegates in the hulking Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.

If the pro-democracy camp had won a majority, at least some members of the camp had plans to vote down major bills, which would eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign.

More news: Buckingham Palace to investigate bullying claims made against Meghan Markle

Hong Kong has been excluded from the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom because its economic policies are controlled from Beijing, the Washington-based think tank said, removing Hong Kong from a list it topped for 25 years up to 2019.

It was the only major economy previous year to report a positive growth, with an expansion of 2.3%.

China will cut energy intensity, a ratio that measures how much is used to drive economic growth, by around 3% in 2021 in a push to meet climate goals, but stopped short of setting a cap on energy use in its new development plan released on Friday.

Li's speech is China's equivalent of a "state of the nation" address.

Li announced a six per cent GDP target for 2021, reversing his last year's decision not to fix the growth target for the economy which remained in a slowdown mode.

Questioned on this year's defense budget, Zhang declined to give a figure but said the spending level was appropriate for China's security needs and to meet its global obligations.

The detentions have been fiercely criticised by governments in the West, including in Britain and the United States.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds a press conference on diplomatic affairs Sunday on the Congress's sidelines.

Planned or potential legislation includes a proposed revision to wildlife protection laws that would permanently ban eating most wildlife, amid the belief that the pandemic came from an animal host.

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