Hong Kong Candidates Can Cut Ties to Foreign Countries

HONG KONG, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said on Friday that election candidates should be allowed to give up their foreign nationality if it conflicts with their new roles, a proposal that critics say is an attempt to tighten control over politics in the global financial hub.

Candidates applying for the post of the city’s Chief Executive and Legislative Council, the former British colony’s mini-parliament, must not have a foreign nationality in the five years before their nomination, according to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution the Basic Law.

But many people in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most international cities, have a second passport, often in Britain or Canada, due to historical ties or for business or family reasons.

Lee said in a consultation document released on Friday that the government was considering whether to seek changes to local laws to allow election candidates to give up their foreign nationality before they run for office. The government will seek public views on this matter for three months.

Hong Kong has undergone a political transformation since Beijing imposed a sweeping new national security law on the city in June 2020 that criminalised dissent and shifted the balance of power towards Beijing.

Albert Ho, a former pro-democracy lawmaker who was barred from running in last year’s Legislative Council election because he had advocated for sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials, said Lee’s proposal was aimed at sidelining people with non-Chinese nationality from political participation.

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