China's top legislature has approved amendments to Hong Kong's constitution that will give Beijing more control over the make-up of the city's legislature.
The changes will sharply reduce the directly elected seats in the Hong Kong legislature to less than a quarter. This is an alteration to Annexes I and II of the Basic Law, which has governed Hong Kong since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
In the new make-up, the legislature will be expanded to 90 seats, and only 20 will be elected by the public. Currently, 35 seats, or half of the 70-seat legislature, are elected.
Of the other seats, 40 will be chosen by an election committee that currently selects Hong Kong's leader. The remaining 30 will be picked by groups representing various professions and interests.
Under the changes, a committee will review the qualifications of candidates for office in Hong Kong to ensure the city is governed by "patriots", in the language of the central government.
The political opposition in Hong Kong — which has advocated for more democracy, not less — sees the changes as part of a broader effort to keep them out of office.
In part, it comes down to the definition of "patriots". The opposition has tried to block legislation by filibustering a key legislative committee for months and disrupting legislative proceedings.
Beijing, which prioritises political stability, sees these actions as unduly interfering with the governing of Hong Kong and wants to keep these actors out of government.
New Zealand and Australia issued a joint statement earlier this month expressing deep concerns about the changes.
Issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and her Australian counterpart Senator Marise Payne, the statement said the changes would undermine the rights and freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong until 2047, under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
"These changes run contrary to the ultimate aim of a Hong Kong Chief Executive elected through universal suffrage, weaken Hong Kong's democratic institutions, and erode freedom of speech and association - all of which are set out in the Basic Law," the joint statement read.
The two urged Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to uphold their commitments to allow Hong Kong's people genuine participation in their governance, and to be allowed to scrutinise the government and express diverse views.
Reaction in Hong Kong
"What they're really referring to [when they say 'patriot'] is that they will pick the people that they like, someone who is one of them," one resident told BBC Chinese earlier this month about the changes.
"Basically, it's a step backwards, becoming more and more like the mainland," he said.
But another resident, identified only as Ho, said she supported the law. "Hong Kong has already returned [to China]," she said. "So under this situation, the Chinese government's law should be the framework for our [patriot law]."
Additional reporting: RNZ