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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:16pm
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

Why is everyone always getting agitated about things Beijing says ? (I am not a friend of Beijing but I have been raised in a democracy where we allow, by constitution, freedom of opinion) .
Before even starting to discuss about and rejecting Beijing's sieve, has anyone ever bothered to ask how the sieve is defined and what the criteria would be for the sieve ?
All the critics of the "sieve" of today wouldn't qualify for a jury in court because they declare the defendant to be guilty before the trial has even started.
All major democracies with universal suffrage have sieves. E.g. you need to be of certain age, need to be citizen of the place, shall not want to overthrow the countries system, shall not be in prison at the time of election - to name just a few. And the list goes on and on.
Before anyone can condemn the idea of a sieve, let the relevant people and authorities explain in detail how a sieve for Hong Kong would look like Give all parties involved the benefit of a doubt - because that is an important part of democracy.
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.
The reason is that some people do not even understand how elections are run in Western countries and are being brain washed and used by certain people for those people's political motives. Those are people who cannot accept that Hong Kong is part of China. Which is why no matter how good CY is performing or whatever China proposes, they immediately object and come up with ideas that are contrary to the Basic Law.
From the footage shown on TV, I am quite impressed by the poise, the intelligence, and the quick thinking of Mr. Zhang. Very few local officials and pan-democrats, other than perhaps Mrs. Carrie Lam have shown this kind of quality. These pan-democrats should learn from him.
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.
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.
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.'
Go head and let them screen potential CE candidates...I do not think they will be ready for the public's reaction. The result will surely have more of an impact on Hong Kong than any Occupy Central movement could ever have.
To me, there was nothing groundbreaking or relationship-mending about the speech by Zhang. It was all rhetoric and he was just reiterating his previous stance on universal suffrage/occupy central, etc.
And why should we trust this sieve dictated by Beijing? Before we can think about giving them any "benefit of the doubt" they should fix their atrocious human rights record- release Liu Xiao Bo and other so-called dissidents, justice for the murder of Li Wang Yang, redress the unjust confinement of Zhao Lian Hai amongst others. Not to mention weeding out corruption from the highest levels and opening up their paranoid choke-hold on the internet and media censorships. This list just goes on and on..
"All the critics of the "sieve" of today wouldn't qualify for a jury in court because they declare the defendant to be guilty before the trial has even started." <- to quote loosely from a famous HK tv drama.. "We are not in a court of law... what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears are evidence!"
Are you a HK-lover or Beijing-lover? We may "only" be an administrative region but this doesn't mean that we need to kiss their ****s... HongKongers do have backbones and we should uphold our moral standards
Carmeledwin is right. Everyone talks about the UN Declaration of Human Rights as if it is higher than the laws of a sovereign land. It isn't. The US has more reservations placed on the UN Declaration of Human Rights than HK does.

However on the other hand, the screening mechanism for CE candidates can't be more stringent than the version used in 2012.

So yes Alert Ho really would need to be allowed to stand for election, otherwise there is no legitimacy. I don't think Alert Ho would win any CE election anyway. Even if he did, he would be a one term CE who wouldn't be able to do much damage. More than likely, he'll get nothing done and would get voted out next term.

Let's just hope Beijing is pragmatic enough to allow the 2012 nomination procedures to be used for the 2017 election. It is the only way this can obtain two-thirds majority vote in the Legco. Any other option is not workable as the 2012 nomination procedures are already a huge compromise to the Pro Beijing camp since only certain people are allowed to nominate candidates.
Nothing like a good dose of sincerity, is there?
hard times !
anyway,it was a good start for the head of the Liaison Offcie,Mr.Zhang Xiao-ming to have a lunch gathering ( at the same table) with some pan-democrats.It might be called an ice-breaking trip too.More gatherings of different types and further contacts can be useful in eliminating any misunderstanding or distrust among them.Regrettably, only 19 pan-democratic lawmakers were present.Raymond Wong Yuk-man was absent. And both Chan Wai-yip and Leung Kwok-hung left after presenting their 'gifts' to a grinning local head cadre of the Chinese Communist Party who is open-minded and friendly as he could be----unlike his predecessors of course !
Dai Muff
Ah, I love the sounds of 50 cents pieces falling in the morning.
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.
Albert Ho stood for election, both the official and the unofficial (presumably universal) ones, and lost both, while CY won both, and the pan-democrats still insist the CE has no legitimacy since he is not chosen by universal suffrage. The fact of the matter is these pan-democrats are just hungry for power, and that most HK voters don't really care who the CE is as long as he is willing and capable to address the basic livelihood issues facing the grass roots.
How can the servants think they will be allowed to choose the master. Choosing the leader is not the province of the governed. It is the province of those who rule in China by divine right, based on the mandate of heaven. It is the job of princelings and princess-lings to assure that the mandate is upheld because their daddies were Mao's buddies and sycophants. What foolishness that the people should be able to choose their own leaders. They should choose who the masters tell them to choose. Anything else would be counter-revolutionary. The revolution was about supplanting democratic musings with the solid and unassailable wisdom of the Party. To allow choice contrary to the Party would be absurd.
It is part of China but China agreed HK would have certain rights not theretofore granted to Chinese citizens (or HK people when the Brits were here). China agreed to those limitations in order to get what it wanted: HK Island and Kowloon, and the Brits out of HK. The ulterior political motives are coming from Beijing as it seeks, day in and day out, to avoid the promises it made without looking too blatant about it, as this is all theatre for how they are going to handle any proposed joinder with Taiwan, with which they are obsessed. And guess what, HK people, if you don't make a stand now they will just keep negating the theoretical benefits granted to you. Don't say you were not warned.
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".
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.
Amartya Sen: "India will prick up its ears
when comparisons with China are made, …
China invested in education and healthcare …”
(Guardian Jul, 16)
Education and healthcare investments usually bring positive returns
But exceptions are possible
Actually it depends on how one makes use of what one learns
For example, literacy has turned a feeble-minded pessimist into a defeatist
Blinded by a low self-image
he blindly believes every propaganda he has read
about the paradise on the other side of the hedge
and mistakes the thieves den where he was brought up,
his constricted personal history / circumstances,
as generalized characteristics of his motherland
Of the myriad guck Joe Chung exhibits
in the trash “Don't Want to be a Chinese in My Next Life”
I recall his prejudice about dogs in Chinese communities
alleging that they are “invariably wild”
He should be taken to an education tour of HK’s dog parks
or the seaside of Aldrich Bay
under leash
Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen
are what they read
Your knees must be aching.
Re Joe Chung
Rubbish Chung misunderstands China's difficulties
which are obvious but complex
I find the challenge an honor
that I can try to understand China’s difficulties as a Chinese
and help defend China's rightful dignity
in the family of nations and human civilization
My only regret is that I haven’t been more capable and devoted
Let me be a Chinese again in my next life
Dai Muff
"Most HK voters" have shown their opinion of CY. But he is still CE.
Dai Muff
And this was indeed "Nothing like a good dose of sincerity"


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