About 40% of the banks registered to vote in Sunday’s legislative elections in Hong Kong are owned by foreigners, some of whom are partly owned by their respective governments, despite Beijing’s warning against interference by foreign forces in the ballot ” reserved for patriots ”.
Forty-six of the 114 voters in the finance functional constituency are banks in Europe, North America and other parts of Asia, HKFP’s review of registration and election information revealed. The constituency will elect a member of the new 90-seat “patriots only” Legislative Council.
Eight of the list of foreign banking companies that are voters are headquartered in the United States, including banking giants JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Other banks with voting rights include Deutsche Bank in Germany and UBS in Switzerland. A total of 20 countries, and Taiwan, are represented on the list of banks registered on the electoral roll.
The Bank of Taiwan is also among the voters, at a time of unprecedented cross-strait tensions.
The Legislative Council polls will be the first since Beijing’s sweeping electoral overhaul, which sharply reduced democratic representation. All the candidates were selected through a multi-step process, led by government officials, to ensure they are “patriots”.
Foreign governments hold partial ownership of a number of financial institutions registered to vote. NatWest is over 50 percent owned by the UK state. The largest shareholder in Commerzbank is the German government, which owns 15 percent.
“China’s internal affair”
Despite the fact that foreign banks have long staged votes in the Legislative Council elections, leaders in Beijing and Chinese state media in the run-up to the final polls have repeatedly warned unspecified “Western forces” to stay on. outside of the process.
“The election of Hong Kong is an internal matter for China,” said Pan Yundong, deputy commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong, on Wednesday. “We will not allow any foreign force to make irresponsible remarks with their ulterior motives.”
The state-run People’s Daily slammed Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei, calling him a “foreign forces chess pawn” in a Thursday op-ed for allegedly barring party candidates from running for office.
The Democratic Party did not put forward any candidates after saying that no member had run for office. Other traditional opposition parties also failed to field candidates.
Most pro-democracy figures are behind bars, in self-exile abroad, have resigned from politics or are prohibited from running.
Beijing-led electoral review
Beijing’s overhaul has increased the number of seats in the Legislative Council from 70 to 90, but only 20 seats – belonging to geographic constituencies – will be directly elected by the public compared to 35 previously.
The electoral committee, made up of pro-Beijing loyalists, will vote for 40 members. The remaining 30 seats will be voted on in closed-circle elections by voters registered in special interest groups known as functional constituencies, such as finance, tourism and education constituencies.
Two candidates are running this year in the financial district, including the incumbent Ronick Chan, adviser to the Bank of China. He is running against Owens Chan, a non-executive director of an Australian health and nutrition company.