• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:42am
NewsHong Kong

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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This article is now closed to comments

Realistically the pan-democrats knew or ought to have known that public nomination was not going to be approved by Beijing buy they mentioned it just as a gesture and for their own political interest. Instead they should have focused on how to widen the democratic participation of the nominating committee as a key part of their negotiation. In fact this is something which Ronnie Tong and Prof Albert Chen suggested right from the beginning and yet it was ignored by many pan-democrats.
Dictator dictates, what do you expect ? The so-called consultation is just but a farce, a mask for the dictator. Hong Kong will NOT get genuine universal suffrage, Hong Kong will get "universal suffrage - Communist style".
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.
Actions speak louder than words. LI says they wont be swayed by the 'disastrous effects' if the reform package fails to pass the legislature. If that were true, there will be no need for Zhang to meet the pan-democrats in the past few days. Apparently they want to sway several pan-democrats on their side for a smooth passage over the legislature. If there are no worries why would people form an anti-OC campaign? These things just don't add up. Beijing is committing the same mistake that they did in the issuance of the White Paper a couple of months ago. Stating they are not worried when they actions show otherwise.
If not because of the communists, pretty sure there will still be signs all over HK that say “no chinese and dogs allowed” ... If you truly have that thing to lead hk, join the communists, get selected, like cy did, and then bring change. Cy got there but has no balls to do good. The system is a problem but only communists can change their system in a country they fought n won. What pan dem n long hair are doing is a waste of time n side tracking from d real problems ... Livelihood problems, housing, education, immigration, populayion n health to name a few.
**** the tyrants and those who wish to be part of the enslavement movement. Foolish Communist suck ups who sell out their co-citizens like you are the problem. You are a disease so stay in the mainland and do not infect us.
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.
Mr. Li's proposal of universal suffrage is disingenuous to say the least. In essence, Beijing's appointed 100 members will choose "acceptable" candidates, and the 7 millions+ residents of Hong Kong can only voice a minority opinion. Given the current tyrannical structure of the Chinese political system, I am not surprised to see this restrictive stance by Beijing.
Nevertheless, our residents must not forsake our God given rights to make responsible choices for ourselves and our progeny without further infringements from external forces. We must be prepared to fight all tyrants to safeguard our political, social and economic destiny. May God bless the people in Hong Kong and our free-thinking, rule-abiding compatriots on the Mainland.
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.
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




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