Democratic hopes dashed for Hong Kong 2017 election

28 March 2013

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hopes that Hong Kong's 2017 election will be genuinely democratic have been dashed after a senior Chinese leader said, regardless of the vote, Beijing will have the final say on who is appointed Hong Kong's next leader.

Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the law committee of the National People's Congress, said China will not allow someone who "confronts" Beijing to become Hong Kong's leader.

"First, the nomination committee will decide. Then voters in Hong Kong will decide. Lastly, the central government will decide whether to appoint or not," Qiao said in a March 24 closed-door seminar, according to a transcript posted online on Wednesday.

Albert Ho, the city's Democratic Party lawmaker, said the move was a "pre-emptive strike" to contain people's expectations towards universal suffrage.

"It's fake universal suffrage, and it's not much better than the uncontested elections they have in Beijing," Ho said.

"Beijing is very skillful. They hold all the cards. They exert pressure, contain expectations, then they'll make sure they get the chief executive they want."

China Warns Hong Kong Against Electing Anti-Beijing Chief Executive

The Chinese government this week said it would oppose any Hong Kong Chief Executive who :plot to overthrow the rule of the Chinese Communist Party,; even though Beijing earlier promised universal suffrage for the special administrative region by 2017, reported Bloomberg.

Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the law committee of the National People・s Congress, said in a speech published on the website of the Chinese government・s office in Hong Kong that an anti-Beijing Chief Executive would be :illogical;; and called for the next candidate to be someone willing to take the top job under the "one country, two systems" principle.

The leader of Hong Kong :can・t plot to overthrow the rule of the Chinese Communist Party,; said Qiao. Foreign investors will leave Hong Kong if conflict between the chief executive and Beijing leads to political instability, he added.

Qiao however left leeway for a Chief Executive who would be willing to challenge Beijing policies, but ultimately remain loyal to the central government.

:Opposition isn・t defined to mean criticising Beijing. If it・s for the good for the country, any sort of criticism is allowed,; he said.

According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing may also consider screening possible Chief Executive candidates before allowing them to stand for elections.

Michael Tien Puk-sun, a member of Hong Kong・s Legislative Council, noted that Beijing saw any advocates of an end to one-party rule and separation of powers as :confrontationists;.

Tien, who also serves as the vice-chairman of the pro-government New People・s Party, claimed to have called up a Beijing official to determined what exactly was deemed confrontational in their eyes.

:I asked the official whether someone is a confrontationist if he has, through words or actions, sought to change the system of one-party rule in China. The official answered yes,; Tien said.

People in favour of a western-style democracy were also regarded by Beijing as confrontational, Tien quoted the official as saying.

Meanwhile, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said he would organize a protest in the city・s business district next July unless the Beijing delivers a blueprint for universal suffrage that meets international standards.

Last year Leung Chun-ying was picked as Hong Kong・s Chief Executive by a committee of billionaires, professionals and lawmakers, while previous holders were also primarily pro-Beijing politicians or business people.

A separate SCMP article highlighted Bejing・s wishes for Hong Kong, citing the :love the motherland and love Hong Kong" phrase coined by Deng Xiaoping nearly two decades ago.

"A patriot is one who respects the Chinese nation, sincerely supports the motherland's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and wishes not to impair Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," Deng had said. "We don't demand that they be in favour of China's socialist system; we ask only for them to love the motherland and Hong Kong."