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Hong Kong will overhaul its last major political representative body, part of the city’s government’s efforts to prevent pro-democracy activists from taking office and ensure that municipal-level organizations are run by Beijing loyalists, the Associated Press reported.

Chief Executive John Lee announced Tuesday changes to the district council, a body that is primarily made up of popularly elected seats.

He added that the city’s government will not allow the district councils to become a platform for advocating independence for Hong Kong or intervening in its administration.

District councilors mainly deal with municipal matters and their elections seldom receive international attention. However, the 2019 elections took on symbolic importance after the city’s pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory at the height of the anti-government protests that year.

But two years later, Hong Kong amended its electoral laws for its legislature, which reduced the public’s ability to vote and increased the number of pro-China lawmakers making decisions. Lawmakers and councilors were also required to take an oath of office pledging allegiance to the city and the Basic Law, a move the pro-democracy camp opposed, according to the South China Morning Post.

The majority of the council seats are directly chosen by citizens under the present electoral laws. Lee said that an ongoing review will contribute to the depoliticization of the bodies.

Many pro-democracy district councilors resigned in 2021 because of the oath-taking requirement. Critics see the requirement as part of a crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony, leading to an erosion of the promised freedoms as a semi-autonomous district since it was handed back to China in 1997.

The councilors’ resignation also followed rumors that they might have to repay their wages if disqualified from office, a claim that the government did not confirm.

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