Universal suffrage

Beijing ‘will not back down’ on Hong Kong’s political reform, says state newspaper

An editorial in the Global Times says the NPC Standing Committee's decision over the 2017 election of a chief executive will be announced by Sunday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 2:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 1:00pm

The central government will not back down from its stance over Hong Kong’s political reform, and authorities can handle any street protests blocking roads in Hong Kong’s financial district, according to the Global Times.

The newspaper, a state-run newspaper known for its nationalistic stance, said the disruptions to society caused by the protests and the class boycott that some student groups have threatened to join would heighten tensions in the city, but backing down to the opposition was not an option, it said.

The Global Times made the remarks in an editorial on Tuesday, a day after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee kicked off a week-long meeting.

The meeting, scheduled to end on Sunday, will decide whether Hong Kong will choose its chief executive by direct election for the first time in 2017.

At the crux of the debate is whether Beijing will require aspirants to secure support from at least half of the nominating committee to be on the public ballot.

In addition, the more Hong Kong activists talk about using tactics of civil disobedience to press Beijing to heed demands for greater democracy, the more it would stand firm on its position, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the city’s sole representative on the standing committee, warned on Monday.

The editorial came a day after an article in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, said Beijing’s stance on political reform would not soften.

“It is widely expected that after the NPC decision comes out, the radical opposition in Hong Kong will very probably launch Occupy Central, and some students may also boycott class. The city’s stability would face unseen pressure,” the Global Times editorial said. “But we think the pressure must be handled by the country and Hong Kong,” it said. “The country has no other way to go. The future of Hong Kong’s political landscape will, to a large extent, depend on the result of this battle.”

If the civil disobedience campaigns lead to great social disorder and eventually the city’s competitiveness becomes compromised, the authorities will be ready to take forceful action, it said.

Student groups and the city’s pan-democratic parties have demanded that the public be able to nominate candidates for the city’s top post. A rejection by Beijing will trigger demonstrations by student activists, who are among the most radical advocates for democracy.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students said it was liaising with its affiliated student unions on a possible boycott of classes starting in a few weeks, if the NPC denies a genuine choice of candidates for chief executive in 2017.

“The opposition in Hong Kong harbours unrealistic fantasies that must be broken,” the editorial said. “As long as we are adamant not to let Hong Kong fall under the grip of the Western powers, the mainland and Hong Kong will have an inexhaustible supply of resources to push the radical opposition and their backers towards desperation.”