FILE PHOTO - Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers a speech at the Lanting Forum in Beijing, China February 22, 2021. REUTERS-Shubing Wang

The Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi on Sunday said the electoral system in Hong Kong must be improved for long-term stability, saying reform would bring about a “brighter future” for the city.

China imposed a tough national security law on the former British colony last year, saying it was needed following months of sometimes violent anti-government protests.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Wang said there was no democracy in Hong Kong during colonial times, and that China has confidence electoral reforms will be beneficial.

China’s actions in Hong Kong have been condemned by the United States and its allies to the anger of the Chinese government, which has said Hong Kong issues are an internal matter with which foreigners have no right to interfere.

On Sunday, Wang said changes to the electoral system are constitutional and justified.

Supporters of the security law – which punishes what it broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison – have said the legislation is necessary to restore stability in Hong Kong after months of pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley, writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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