Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Lawmakers invited to Shenzhen for last-minute talks on 2017 election reform

Lawmakers invited to Shenzhen next week to discuss poll deal with senior Beijing officials

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 3:00am

All 70 lawmakers have been invited to meet senior Beijing officials in Shenzhen next Thursday in a last-ditch effort to narrow the gap on attitudes to reform for the 2017 chief executive election.

Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei would be at the meeting, said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. A government source said Wang Guangya , director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and the head of the central government's liaison office, Zhang Xiaoming , would also attend.

It is understood that Li will remain in Shenzhen the next day to meet some of the 1,193 members of the Election Committee that selected Leung as chief executive in 2012.

The announcement came as Zhang held the first of four meetings with pan-democratic lawmakers on reform before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress rules on the issue at the end of the month. The talks also laid the framework for a second round of public consultation later this year.

"That [Shenzhen meeting] is another attempt really to listen to the Legco members' views on constitutional development," said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who chaired yesterday's meeting.

She urged lawmakers to grasp the chance for dialogue with central government officials.

The Democratic Party, Civic Party and Labour Party said they would send representatives to the Shenzhen meeting.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said pan-democrats would do their utmost to urge Beijing to give Hongkongers a real choice in the 2017 election.

The radicals - including independent Wong Yuk-man - could not be reached for comment, while League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung said he would attend only if it was an open-door meeting.

Lawmakers were invited to Shanghai for talks in April, but only 14 pan-democrats attended.

Speaking about yesterday's 90-minute meeting, Lam said Zhang had given a "detailed response" to issues raised by the five Democratic Party lawmakers.

"It is not quite realistic to expect one meeting to reach a consensus, but I think the meeting has been held in a very candid and open manner," Lam said, describing the atmosphere as "very good".

Government sources said Zhang told democrats not to take part in the Occupy Central movement and to enhance mutual trust with Beijing. But Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said she told Zhang the party would support Occupy if Beijing failed to offer "genuine universal suffrage".