The reforms are the most dramatic overhaul since the city-state was handed back to China by UK in 1997

In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to questions during a question and answer session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. China's top legislature approved amendments to Hong Kong's constitution on Tuesday, March 30, that will give Beijing more control over the make-up of the city's legislature.
In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to questions during a question and answer session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. China's top legislature approved amendments to Hong Kong's constitution on Tuesday, March 30, that will give Beijing more control over the make-up of the city's legislature. (AP)

Chinese leaders have endorsed a sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system, slashing its number of directly elected seats and ensuring a majority of the city's lawmakers will be selected by a reliably pro-Beijing committee.

The new measures, which bypassed Hong Kong's legislature and were imposed directly by Beijing on Tuesday, are the latest move aimed at quashing the city's opposition movement after huge protests.

"President Xi Jinping signed presidential orders to promulgate the amended annexes," China's official Xinhua news agency said in a short report.

Hong Kong's 7.5 million residents are still not sure what the new law contains with no details yet published.

But Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole delegate on China's rubber-stamp parliament, gave a breakdown of what the new measures included.

READ MORE: China says increased control over Hong Kong elections aimed at ending chaos

"The amendments were unanimously passed by 167 members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress," he told AFP.

Under the new law, Hong Kong's legislature will be expanded from 70 to 90 seats.

Only 20 of those seats will now be directly elected, down from 35, Tam said. The majority – 40 – will be chosen by a reliably pro-Beijing committee.

The remaining 30 will be chosen by "functional constituencies" – bodies representing certain industries and special interest groups that have also been historically loyal to Beijing. 

Anyone standing for election will also have to be vetted for their political views.

Tam revealed that the vetting committee would be created by authorities in Hong Kong and the city's new national security apparatus would have a say in who gets approved.

"The National Security Committee and the National Security Police will provide reports on every single candidate to assist the vetting by the qualification review committee," he told AFP.

READ MORE: China to tighten vetting of Hong Kong lawmakers

Source: AFP