• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 6:43pm
NewsHong Kong

Beijing liaison chief hints at screening of CE candidates

Beijing liaison chief tells lawmakers that universal suffrage in 2017 could also see mechanism to 'sieve' hopefuls to protect national sovereignty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:16pm


  • Yes: 64%
  • No: 36%
17 Jul 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 292

Beijing's top man in Hong Kong has dropped the clearest hint yet that a screening mechanism could play a role in selecting future chief executives.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, also said that national sovereignty and security must be protected as the city achieves universal suffrage by 2017.

It is by no means an unreasonable demand that national sovereignty, national safety and the rights of the central government must be well protected
Zhang Xiaoming

During a lunch with 50 lawmakers on his unprecedented visit to the Legislative Council, described by one as "cordial on the surface", Zhang delivered strong messages in a friendly and sometimes jocular tone. But outside the building later he took a tougher line, slamming the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign, which he said would be a disaster with "lasting consequences" for Hong Kong.

He told lawmakers: "There is no doubt of the central government's position - and sincerity - to support Hong Kong achieving universal suffrage.

"[But] the methods must follow the actual situation of Hong Kong, which means it is not a country. It is by no means an unreasonable demand that national sovereignty, national safety and the rights of the central government must be well protected."

Radical lawmakers were on their best behaviour - there were no objects thrown or slogans chanted. "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung gave Zhang a book on the Communist Party's pledge for democracy during its struggle against the Kuomintang in the 1940s, while People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen offered another book entitled Don't Want to be a Chinese in My Next Life.

The three then left the dining hall after presenting their gifts.

Zhang used another gift - a sieve given by lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee - as a metaphor to illustrate the advantages of a screening process. "What is the sin of a sieve?" he asked. "It was our ancestors' wisdom that invented the sieve. Otherwise how can we sift fine grains from coarse grains? We cannot simply deny that a sieve has its function."

Video: Beijing envoy, Hong Kong lawmakers in landmark talks

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the meeting was "cordial on the surface" but there was "a lot of tough talk" on universal suffrage. "The hint of a screening process also touches a nerve as it gives a very bad message that universal suffrage in 2017 will not be a genuine one that reflects the people's will," Lee said.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit believed Zhang was not serious with his metaphor.

"The most effective sieve would be one that let millions of voters sift the candidates that they do not prefer," he said.

Beijing-loyalist Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, played down the metaphor. "I do not think it has anything to do with electoral reform," he said.

Nineteen of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers attended, while Zhang brought 11 colleagues from the liaison office.




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This article is now closed to comments

Your knees must be aching.
Dai Muff
Ah, I love the sounds of 50 cents pieces falling in the morning.
I hope Mr. Zhang is pragmatic enough to understand that HK people will accept a screening mechanism to filter out louts like Long Hair, but will not accept a screening mechanism that filters out politicians like Alert Ho.

I am not particularly fond of Mr. Ho. He's an attention seeking opportunist. But he should still be allowed to stand for election to be CE as long as he is not confrontational nor provocative to Beijing.

There are so many things that can be improved in HK. I'd like to see Alert use his brain to try to solve these issues. I don't think I've ever heard a single solution come from Mr. Ho's mouth. I only hear a lot of rhetoric.
Dai Muff
You seem to have a spelling problem there mate, rather like those Republican that have such a problem with the five-letter "Obama".
Let's just hope that the "screening mechanism" is merely going to be a variation of the nominating procedures used in 2012 since that'll allow pan-democratic candidates to stand for election. Anything that totally screens out pan-dems is going to be complete rubbish; it will result in very poor turnouts, and will provide even less legitimacy than the current electoral methods.

At least with the current electoral methods, polls clearly do indicate which CE candidate is favored by the people even if they don't have the opportunity to vote for them. That limited sort of legitimacy will be gone if there's a 10% turnout rate for the 2017 CE election.
What are you voting for if the candiates are screened at all? What if only two members of the DAB were fit enough to run for office...what would you achive by voting?
They do this with the fake elections at the village level in China. They pick two candiates from the Party and then let the peasants vote for them..in the end, to nobody's surprise, the leader is loyal to the Party and not the people. Perhaps this is what HK people have yet to understand.
Good analogy. "The sieve" should be the people of Hong Kong as opposed to a Chinese-made sieve which weeds out only the good seeds.
Healthily Cynical
I'm torn .. should I be cynical about 'democracy with Chinese characteristics' or over joyed at what is actually a massive move towards democracy? Let's have a vote, your options are:
(a) over joyed, or
(b) over joyed
The UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21:
1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives....
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
So Hong Kong people are to be denied their basic human right to stand for election. There should be no sieve, no qualification. Everyone has a right to stand for election.
What is proposed is universal suffrage in name only. 'Everyone can vote, but only for the people we choose.'
Do you think that Beijing will give appointment to someone they are not in approval of? Will they approve say, for example, Albert Ho? I think we must not be naive, this is part of China, we are not a separate or sovereign country. Besides it is not just UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 21. We have the Basic Law, which is the constitution of Hong Kong. The constitution of a place is not below the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The Laws of any place comes before any UN Declaration.




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