• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01am
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

So "staunch patriots" now means loyalty to the one party state according to an off the cuff statement by a senior official.
The ridiculous thing is that such oral remarks are treated as law by the CCP and its followers. So much for the ambition to adopt the rule of law.
A serious void between mindsets here.
The problem is that CCP only wish to have an dialog as long as u agree to their side of The story . In real China dont care one bit over HK and if they could they gladly go in with The army and crush all oposision as they have done in countles of other provinses in the mainland. Human life does not mean much for the CCP as history have shown.
.....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.
We have freedom in Hong Kong, NOT because of Beijing's "tolerance", but because it is our rights as Hong Kong citizens!
I agree with you wholeheartedly but having said that it seems that Beijing shows more tolerance towards HK than any other Chinese city and that has riled up some of the mainlanders.
Tolerance? The Basic Law that guarantees our frights and freedoms was negotiated with the Communist Party as a party before the British agreed to give back their leased territory and the territory they held in perpetuity. The negotiations persuaded the British to hand over their sovereign territory to the Chinese Communist Party because these freedoms were to be guaranteed.
What other Chinese city had a similar experience? None.
Beijing simply doesn't view the Basic Law as we do. In fact, the ones now in power may not see it the same as patriarch Deng in the 80s. To them, they are tolerant of HK and that is the same for a whole lot of mainlanders. We view most things as a given but our friends up north just view it differently.
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 politics is the art of compromise then can't the pan-democrats simply change their slogan from ending "one-party dictatorship" to something like "...aiming to build a democratic China and HK..."? Changing political slogan or motto is something that political parties across the world do all the time. For example, the DPP in Taiwan has dropped independence from the party manifesto and the British Labour party under Tony Blair had rebranded itself as "New Labour" in order to get elected back in 1997. Political u-turns should not be frowned upon if they can bring better political goals.




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