Rita Fan warns Hongkongers against being exploited by foreign envoys

Beijing loyalist warns locals against others' hidden agenda on city's electoral reform

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 2:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 October, 2013, 8:28am

Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has a message for Hongkongers: Don't be "too naive" or allow yourselves to be exploited by foreign diplomats who may have a hidden agenda when it comes to the city's political reform.

"China is growing more influential, hence some global powers naturally want to do something to drag it down," Fan (pictured) told an RTHK radio programme yesterday. "As some Hong Kong people are so concerned with the 2017 election and the Occupy Central movement, it is perfect timing for these foreign countries to jump into the debate."

Fan, a National People's Congress Standing Committee member and former Legislative Council president, also said Hong Kong people should not rely on foreign influence when it came to the push for universal suffrage.

She was taking a swipe at recent comments by British foreign office minister Hugo Swire and new United States consul general Clifford Hart, both of whom expressed their nation's support for the city's democratisation.

Fan said such comments were "merely rhetoric". She told Hongkongers: "Don't be so naïve and allow yourselves to be exploited by others."

In an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post last month, Swire wrote that it was important for voters to have a genuine choice, and that "Britain stands ready to support in any way we can".

That came after Hart said in July, on his second day on the job, that he was looking forward to Hongkongers' move towards "genuine democratic suffrage".

Yesterday, Fan also dismissed suggestions that Beijing might refuse to appoint a chief executive-elect it deemed unsuitable after the 2017 poll, saying that doing so would not be feasible.

"It would be too subjective for Beijing to refuse to appoint the winner of an open and fair election," Fan said.

Rejecting a winner, as has been advocated by some Beijing loyalists, would give the central government substantial, instead of symbolic, power in appointing the chief executive, essentially enabling it to screen out any candidate it did not trust.

The government has yet to announce electoral reform proposals to put to a public consultation, but Fan said January would be a good time.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said there was still time to discuss the city's constitutional development.