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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 5:40am
NewsHong Kong

2017 chief executive must be a 'staunch patriot' Zhang Xiaoming tells pan-dems

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 5:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 5:50pm

Dialogue between Beijing's top representative in Hong Kong and pan-democratic lawmakers yesterday was "far more frank than expected" but both sides remain poles apart on the city's political reform.

A source familiar with the matter said this yesterday after Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, met representatives of the Civic Party and the Labour Party.

The source said Zhang noted the fact that the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China - whose platform includes "end one-party dictatorship"- was allowed to operate in Hong Kong showed Beijing's tolerance.

He also pointed out that lawmakers returned under the city's electoral systems came from a "wide political spectrum".

But he told Labour Party lawmakers that the chief executive to be chosen by universal suffrage in 2017 must be a "staunch patriot" and anyone openly calling for an end to "one-party dictatorship" could not run for the job.

Democrats have insisted there must be no screening mechanism to eliminate candidates Beijing does not like.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the frankness they experienced at the meeting far exceeded their expectations. "I hope that frankness will provide a very good basis for taking the dialogue further," he said.

But the source said Zhang rebutted Leong's views in an article published in Apple Daily yesterday that the nomination rules must ensure that voters had a "free choice of candidates".

"Zhang retorted that if it is put into practice, there won't be any system for nominating candidates for election but only the mechanism for people signing up for elections," the source said.

Zhang had also said the "fundamental flaw" of the Civic Party's approach was that it was not acting in accordance with the Basic Law. Its support for public nomination - allowing voters to nominate candidates - was not in line with the mini-constitution, the liaison office chief said, according to the source.

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said he was worried that there could be little room for dialogue in future if the national legislature imposed a strict framework on political reform.

The divide in views was further underlined yesterday when Cheung Kong Group chairman Li Ka-shing said he did not want to see a standstill in the city's democratisation. "I don't want to march on the spot," he said.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee will convene between August 25 and 31 in Beijing to decide on arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election.

The committee is expected to set out guidelines for reform. Pan-democrats fear it will demand that prospective candidates need backing from half of the nominating committee to officially enter the race.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dropped a strong hint yesterday that he did not oppose such a requirement.

"There is a legal opinion that because the Basic Law stated that the candidates shall be put forward by the nominating committee, the word 'committee' means that [the nomination] will be a collective decision," he said.

A government source confirmed last night that Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei will host a seminar in Hong Kong on September 1 to explain the Standing Committee's ruling.



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This article is now closed to comments

We have freedom in Hong Kong, NOT because of Beijing's "tolerance", but because it is our rights as Hong Kong citizens!
By staunch patriot, I think what Zhang really means is to 'love the party' more so than the country itself.
Remember in China, you don't separate the party from the country.
The CCP's definition of patriotism is blind unquestioning loyalty to the party, regardless of how beneficial the party actually is to China and how many human rights violations it has committed. It doesn't allow for any staunch criticism of the state, or any speech that goes against the party's ideology.
Obviously, the CCP's definition of patriotism is rubbish.
If they do exactly as you say there would have been no need for talks as its basically the status quo. We do wish to have the freedom to elect a CE of our choice but we should not have to choose from a Beijing-appointed bunch. I agree that LEE does not exactly seem to have come clean on his donations but then lets not totally forget what he has done for Hong Kong workers over the years. I too am exercising my right to relay what I genuinely believe in.
Good, we should always exercise our right to speak and think. There will always be dissenting views, Hong Kong is an open society that is the beauty of Hong Kong . Views can be different but we should learn to respect each other's view and act in accordance with the law. If this and the rule of law is taken from us I will occupy central with you as then Hong Kong would be in a situation where civil disobedience is justified.
.....I hate to say it, because I know Beijing thinks it now has the upper hand after their fake March......this is going to go badly......
....not for the elections, but I don't think Beijing understand what it may be unleashing...and with a tanking economy on the Mainland, it could easily spread like wild fire....
I watched the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" last night and found parallel to the political reality in HK if a North Korean style political reform were to be passed. Humans will then be ruled by apes. But then again it is not fair to disparage such intelligent relatives of ours.
Exactly. Why is being against a one party rule un-patriotic? The CCP only holds on to power by force. The CCP can not allow opposition parties to challenge them as they would most likely loose. So there is no hope for democracy in Hong Kong while the CCP remains in power
A staunch patriot? Even Leung Kwok Hung is a staunch patriot according to the dictionary definition of the word, it is unquestionable. The problem lies in the fact that Beijing has its own unique definition for the word just like it has its own way of defining religious freedom which enables them to select the leaders of state sanctioned churches. In reality they have their own definition for many things. But it isn't restricted to Beijing look at Washington.
Alan Leong is a credible legislator, hope there will be continued dialogue to come to a mutual agreement, although maybe not completely to the satisfaction of his party, on the way forward. We should take one step forward at a time. We still have all the freedom we want in Hong Kong and the rule of law. As this is the case, it is wrong to break the law by "occupy central" when we are so defensive on the rule of law. Peaceful protest that complies with the law is always supported and we should exercise our freedom of speech. Lee Cheuk Yan also had the meeting today, I do not know how he can still stand up to make statements after placing donation money in his personal account and only transferred it to the party's account after being found out. The chap has lost his credibility, the only honourable thing for him to do is to resign, if he has any honour left in him. I am exercising my freedom of speech and thought which may differ from the defenders of Lee Cheuk Yan.



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