Beijing official urges pan-democrats to talk

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2010, 12:00am

The central government's top advisory body has spoken out on Hong Kong's constitutional reform, calling on pan-democrats to talk to the city's government and warning against radicalism.

The latest remarks by Zhao Qizheng , the spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, came three days after Peng Qinghua , director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, pledged to convey Hongkongers' views on electoral reform to Beijing.

Speaking at a gathering with Hong Kong and Macau reporters in Beijing, Zhao said blocking the government's electoral reform proposals would lead to instability in the city.

'We hope Hong Kong's constitutional reform proposal can be passed. Political issues should be resolved through consultation ... Taking an extreme attitude and considering everything either black or white will not help solve any problem,' he said.

Asked about moderate pan-democrats' request for dialogue with Beijing on electoral reform, Zhao said there were sufficient channels for communication between the two sides but pan-democrats should first talk to the Hong Kong government.

Five legislators from the League of Social Democrats and the Civic Party resigned last month to trigger by-elections which they see as a de facto referendum on the pace and scope of democratisation. Other groups in the pro-democracy camp, including the Democratic Party, have held talks on electoral reform with the government and pro-establishment parties.

Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, secretary general of the Civic Party and a deputy spokesman for the de facto referendum campaign, dismissed any suggestion the Democratic Party's approach had yielded results.

He seized on a recent remark by Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan that 'the wind blowing from the north tells me Beijing has room for discussion'. Chan asked: 'Are those north winds going to get us genuine universal suffrage?'

'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, of the league, one of the five lawmakers who resigned, urged the rest of the pan-democrats to unite behind their referendum plan.

'The easiest way for the pro-establishment to avoid debating these issues is to accuse us of not being able to resolve them even among ourselves ... My wish is for all the pan-democrats to stand with us on this plan,' he said.