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  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 5:26am
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Beijing could veto Hong Kong chief executive candidates: official think tank

Mainland think tank includes separate chapter on HK in its annual Blue Book on rule of law for first time amid debate over chief executive poll

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 11:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 8:46am

A mainland think tank has for the first time included a separate chapter on Hong Kong in its annual Blue Book on rule of law, raising the stakes as the city engages in a heated debate over arrangements for electing the chief executive in 2017.

The chapter was compiled for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences by a legal academic at City University, Lin Feng. Lin wrote that the central government had reportedly vetoed ministerial candidates recommended by the Hong Kong government and so it would be "definitely possible" for Beijing to veto any chief executive candidate deemed unacceptable.

Separately, Li Lin, head of the academy's institute of law, said an interpretation of the Basic Law could settle any dispute over political reform, although such a suggestion was not included in the report. Li said that Beijing had the ultimate right to appoint the chief executive but that an interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress might be needed to decide how to implement that right.

"If the dispute [over reform] is too big, it would be hard to forge a consensus through deliberation. At the end, we might have to … seek an interpretation," he said in Beijing yesterday.

Lin told the Post that he was invited to write the chapter in the middle of last year, adding that it was "logical and sensible" for the academy to include a separate chapter on Hong Kong in its annual report.

The Legislative Council's chairman, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, said the Blue Book's argument did not reflect Beijing's official thinking. He said the city would suffer political turmoil if the central government refused to appoint the chief executive elected by universal suffrage in 2017.

Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the academy was not a high-level think tank. "It is more about how mainland scholars interpret the will of Beijing," he said.

The chapter by Lin lamented the government's failure to offer an explanation for its decision to grant only two free-to-air TV licences. PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment and i-Cable's Fantastic TV received licences. Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network did not.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has invited lawmakers and officials from the central government's liaison office for four breakfast meetings, starting from March 18, to discuss political reform.

Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said not every pan-democrat would attend the meetings and he urged Lam to arrange separate meetings for parties to allow for more fruitful discussions.

The barrister added an interpretation of the Basic Law would only solve constitutional problems, not political ones. "I hope the central government could stay restrained," he said.

The government began a five-month consultation on reform in December. Electoral reform in Hong Kong will require Beijing's approval and a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council.

 

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nicolas
if the CE candidate have duly passed the screening electoral commitee...and even won the popular vote of the HK people....but just because beijing people didn't like him and veto his right for CE post....then, what's the use of this election??? MAY I ASKED ??? SIMPLY AN IDIOT and STUPID DEMOCRATIC ELECTION !!!!!!!!!!!
XYZ
Ronnie Tong makes an important point. One can craft constitutional constructs all day long, but if the constructs do not fit the political reality, then social tension, or worse, is the inevitable result.
Ant Lee
Annual Blue Book on rule of law in China? Dont need to read the whole article to see what it is getting at.
the sun also rises
as every Hongkonger with sense well knows that our chief executive once elected, has to be appointed by Beijing authorities which can veto the appointment. That explains why local pro-democracy candidates in the Chief Executive Election can never hope for winning the top post in town. Yet once the chief executive elected by qualified voters in town is not appointed, the uproar or response in town will be shocking and it is harmful to the harmonious relationship and mutual trust between Beijing and Hong Kong !
chuchu59
While it is probably right to say that local pro-democracy candidates have a slimmer chance of winning the top post if Beijing has the right to veto any CE candidates we could put a positive spin in it if Beijing has to clearly outline the reasons for any candidates that it vetoes. Surely they cannot veto a candidate because of his/her political affiliation. I opine this is at least better than screening by a nominating committee which comprises mainly puppets and who are not accountable to the voters in HK. The pan-democrats should aim to field candidates that are not antagonistic towards Beijing as ultimately he/she will need to work closely with the mainland. Beijing also needs to show its openness in accepting candidates that are not on strictly cosy terms with them.
jackwong18
Chuchu, I absolutely agree with you that screening committee is not a good way to eliminate candidates based on political affiliation and I don't particularly trust the nominating committee to voice our view without consideration their own benefits. I hope there is a better way to find a capable candidate which "love Hong Kong and love China"...it's just I couldn't find. Perhaps we should accept the system as it is but Beijing also gives HongKonger a power (say when there is over 350k, or 5% of population voters voting against CE) to initiate a mechanism to remove CE if he does not do the job. It makes sure CE is held accountable to Hongkongers but not just limited beneficiaries.
jackwong18
Then your question should be whether Hong Kong can have a chief executive which is pro-western world (not necessarily US), or Hong Kong should declare itself an independent state to free the rein from China. The Chinese official has gotten the point - Hong Kong CE should "love Hong Kong and love China" - this is of course the basic requirement so long as Hong Kong is a part of China. It has nothing to do with the mutual trust or else. Of course you can say there should be no screening conditions on universal suffrage - but China, as a ruling country of Hong Kong, of course has the final say on who is to be the CE. Hypothetically if Beijing really allows HongKongers to select their own CE, Beijing is prepared to allow Hong Kong to declare independent because chances are Hong Kong would be saturated with western monies who will do nothing but influence the voters on their side. Sorry that my view is pity biased.
jackwong18
Ok. Basic laws clearly stated the use of universal suffrage to find the chief-executive elect, which will then be appointed by the central government of China. While these two are two completely incompatible systems of selecting the chief executive, who has the final say constitutionally? So long as Hong Kong is a part of China, Hong Kong is subject to the ruling of China... as a matter of fact, the constitution of China confers the right to NPC to amend basic law and to NPCSC to interpret the Basic Law. While there is a "confusion" or "contradiction" in the two election methods, NPCSC has the absolute power to interpret the Basic Law, with or without request from the Hong Kong government. While the pan-democrats are almost entirely against the interpretation, I would say this is the only way to resolve the never-ending discussion ... where the confusion stems from the basic law itself by containing two separate ways of selecting the CE. I am neither pro-democrats or pro-establishment. I am just against pointless discussions and wastes of energies which is disturbing me every day.
Dao-Phooy
Rule of Law in the context of the Chinese legal system? At best this description makes a person roll his or her eyes! Just like the other so-called legal scholar trying to lecture HK on capitalism. This raises grave concerns on the standard of teaching by Mr Lin who teaches law students at CityU!
jackwong18
Agree that at this stage the Chinese legal system is far from perfect. But please look at the development of Chinese legal system in the past 30 years, or at least in the past 10 years. I do see quite a huge improvement in the legal system. Basically you don't have the rule of law or even the concept of law in the cultural revolution era, but yet China built everything up since then. There are a lot of components in the legal systems, e.g. practitioners, official's respect of laws, people's trust on law, etc, which needs a long time to develop. No developed countries can build a sound legal system in such a short time and I am truly amazed by the development of legal system (despite still in early stage) in the past 3 decades (think how long it takes for US or UK to have a sound legal system?). You may of course laugh at the annual Blue book based on the current status, but I feel rather encouraged by this Blue book because at least it shows China is moving to the direction to really moving towards the rule of law.

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