• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:16pm
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Top official Li Fei drops another hint about Beijing’s thinking on 2017 election

Stringent rules look likely for chief executive election, as top mainland official suggests key committee is not in the mood for compromise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 August, 2014, 2:19am

A mainland official has hinted that the national legislature's top body will set stringent rules for Hong Kong's next chief executive election, unswayed by the possibility of "disastrous effects" if the reform package fails to pass the local legislature.

Li Fei summoned the memory of Deng Xiaoping, who told British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 that China would resume sovereignty over Hong Kong regardless of the consequences.

Li, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, was speaking ahead of a meeting next week by Standing Committee of National People's Congress that will lay down a framework for the city's first popular election to choose its leader in 2017.

"I noted that some people wrote in newspapers in Hong Kong that it would be disastrous if the central government did not adopt what they advocate," Li told a Shenzhen seminar attended by Hong Kong representatives. He recalled Deng telling Thatcher - who had warned of a "disastrous effect" if Beijing insisted on taking back Hong Kong - that it "would face the disaster head on and make the decision".

"Today we also need to face universal suffrage with the utmost determination and courage, and make a historic choice," Li said.

A person familiar with Beijing's stance said: "The central government won't make concessions when national sovereignty and security are at stake."

Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee lamented that Beijing seemed to have made up its mind. "It seems there's no room for any change."

Democrat Cheung Man-kwong described Li's comments as "tough and clear".

The seminar was the last of a series hosted by Li and attended by businessmen and scholars, along with Zhang Rongshun, vice-chairman of the Basic Law Committee, Wang Guangya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Zhang Xiaoming , director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong.

One strict rule hinted at by Li was a requirement that the nominating committee, which Beijing insists has the exclusive power to pick candidates, should follow the structure of the election committee that selected the current chief executive.

Li said the new committee "must" give equal representation to the four major sectors that made up the previous one, which has been criticised as anti-democratic. He did not say if it would also consist of 1,200 members.

Li did not say whether a person who wanted to run would need to gain support from more than half of the members of the nominating committee - a hotly debated issue - but said "the minority must obey the majority".

Barrister Edward Chan King-sang said he told Li that if the structure of the election committee was to be followed, then its low threshold for candidate eligibility - one-eighth of the committee - should also be followed.

Legal academic Eric Cheung Tat-ming said he felt Li was "interpreting" the Basic Law to justify the 50 per cent threshold, which could be harmful for further reform beyond 2017.

 

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26

This article is now closed to comments

ianson
Only a person of the feeble intellect of Li Fei would make such a gross error, insulting the intelligence of the people of Hong Kong in this way. We were promised democracy and it will come, over your rotting soul, Mr Li.
norodnik
Why are all these CCP d*ckheads coming out of the woodwork making ambiguous statements?
norodnik
Why can't any of these bloodsuckers just come out and say what the deal is...it is pathetic to see how HK is getting strung out....the CCP is ruining this city because there is nobody in charge of HK in the CCP that can say anything definite.
It's this BS CCP shadows and mirrors game that will kill HK....
caractacus
Making up the Basic Law as they go along to suit themselves. Again oral pronouncements become "law".
These paranoid, ignorant, arrogant idiots see the CIA under every bed.
blue
The Basic Law states in Article 26 that all permanent residents have the right to vote and to stand for election. Article 39 states that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies to HK which also states that all citizens have the right to nominate, elect, and stand for elections.

The only special requirements specific to the Chief Executive in the Basic Law are in Article 44 which states that he needs to be a Chinese national and at least 40 years old. Why does it not say here that he needs to be a patriot and love China?

Although Article 45 requires a Nominating Committee to nominate the CE; no where does it say that at least 50% of the Nominating Committee needs to nominate the CE in order to be placed on the ballot. In fact past precedent suggests that only 1/8 of the Nominating Committee should be required in order to be nominated.

A 50% threshold is in violation of the Basic Law as noted by the HK Bar Association.
ejmciii
Gotta give the tyrants credit for being consistent in the their tyranny and continued reneging on promises. It makes sense of course because only communists can rule They have the special gene that allows them to know best for all people. So you can choose from candidates that we tell you to choose from hand picked by the people we hand picked to govern your choices. If it were not so sad, it would be amusing.
acny
Pan-Dem should say yes to the political reform and Beijing should promise the following in return:
1. HK will get back the right of refusal of any mainlander immigrants.
2. Cut down the number of one-way permit by 90%
3. Put a permanent halt on any future transportation projects that will link HK to the Mainland
4. Stop the purchase of real estates by Mainlanders
5. All investments and IPOs from Mainland should be vetted by the ICAC for corruption money
6. Get rid of the functional constitutency
7. Renew the "50 year no change" clause if China failed to democratize by 2047
tkruemmer
It is very difficult for these officials to draw a clear line, as they themselves are subject to mood swings in Beijing.

Lets take a step back and look at what Deng may have had in mind, when agreeing to one country - two systems.

I would dare to say, that the eventual full integration of Hong Kong in China was never in doubt. The issue to solve was, to iron out the significant differences between Hong Kong and the mainland, so that a merger could be smooth.

Economically, I dare to think that Deng envisioned the PRC would upgrade economically and finally reach a level at which a merger would not drag down Hong Kong.

Politically, the ideal of a full merger requires that the mainland becomes more compatible with Hong Kong. In other words, Hong Kong has got to stand still while the mainland evolves. Should Hong Kong progress politically, the mainland would always be one step behind.

Consequently it is in Beijing's interest to freeze the status quo in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has no leverage, and angry demonstrations on the streets may not be helpful, as this will confirm Beijing's irrational fear of democracy in Hong Kong.

Any political progress in Hong Kong depends on the political progress (if any) in the mainland, particularly areas near Hong Kong.
johnh
If China cannot get its act together, it's NOT our problem! We will not lower our standards for a communist government that runs its own citizens over with tanks
ssslmcs01
I see your points but there is a problem with what you are proposing.
In effect they are saying that only a communist party lover is eligible to become the next leader of Hong Kong. If that is the case, the next leader being a communist at heart and feeling justified by being elected by the electorate of Hong Kong will throw any such agreements that you mentioned above down the toilet along with Hong Kong during her / his first term in office after implementing article 23.

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