NPC Standing Committee gets down to details of rules for 2017 poll
Standing Committee's decision on 2017 chief executive election must take into account national security and sovereignty, delegates say
Tony Cheung and Adrian Wan in Beijing
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The nation's top legislative body should "make decisions on the core issues" concerning how Hong Kong elects its leader by universal suffrage in 2017, Xinhua said last night.
It said there had been controversy over the method for nominating candidates, and some suggestions had even breached the Basic Law.
The Xinhua report also said the decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, to be unveiled on Sunday, would have a bearing on national security and sovereignty.
The report cited participants in the first group discussions on the issue yesterday.
The views appeared to differ from the observations of Hong Kong deputies who sat in on the discussions.
The local deputies, including Ip Kwok-him and Maria Tam Wai-chu, told the media that the discussions had focused on endorsing the Hong Kong government's report on electoral reform, while the finer details - such as whether aspirants should be required to secure support from at least half of nominating committee members before their names could be put on the ballot paper - had not been fully discussed.
A draft resolution is expected to be table at the Standing Committee's plenary session this afternoon.
Asked whether anyone in his discussion group had mentioned the controversial 50 per cent nomination threshold for candidates, Ip said: "Yes, but it wasn't a key point - the key point was whether they supported the chief executive's report."
About 170 members of the committee, as well as 12 Hong Kong deputies invited to observe, were divided into six groups to discuss agenda items.
"The Standing Committee members who spoke in the morning agreed with [Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying's report to Beijing] and said he had explained Hong Kong's situation comprehensively," Tam said.
She said the suggestion of capping the number of candidates allowed to run for the top job was mentioned in her group.
Fellow deputy Ma Fung-kwok said he had remarked during another group discussion that a 50 per cent threshold was reasonable and fitted the Basic Law requirement that candidates should be nominated in accordance with "democratic procedures".
"It is an appropriate time for the national legislature to give a clear decision, and then explain it in a detailed manner," he said.
Deputy Lo Sui-on said he had told Standing Committee members about the pan-democrats' call for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates independently of the nominating committee, as well as Occupy Central's unofficial "referendum" on electoral methods in June.
He also called on the committee to make a "timely and clear decision about the dos and don'ts" needed for the electoral overhaul.
Meanwhile, state-run newspaper Global Times said in an editorial yesterday that the central government would not yield in the showdown with opposition forces in Hong Kong over electoral reform and the city could handle threatened street protests to block roads in the financial district.