Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to lead tycoons on visit to Beijing

Discussions with Xi Jinping and Zhang Dejiang expected to cement support for NPC's decision on model for 2017 election of city's leader

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 3:51am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 7:33am

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa will lead Hong Kong tycoons and business elites to meet state leaders in Beijing as the central government garners support for its controversial decision on political reform.

In a high-profile pledge to support Beijing's tough framework on the city's first popular vote for its leader in 2017, Tung confirmed the visit to Beijing later this month.

He declined to provide more details yesterday at his first press conference since he quit the top job in 2005.

"Yes, there will be a visit to Beijing. But the details have yet to be finalised and I will provide more information when it's available," said Tung, who is now a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body.

A source familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said tycoons - including Cheung Kong chairman Li Ka-shing, New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun, Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee and Ian Fok Chun-wan, son of late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung - had been invited to meet President Xi Jinping and the chairman of the National People's Congress, Zhang Dejiang .

A spokesman for Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, chairman of Hopewell Holdings, said Wu had been invited to visit Beijing between September 21 and 22, while Stanley Lau Chin-ho, the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, has also been invited.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee laid down a tougher-than-expected framework for the city to choose its chief executive by universal suffrage.

Only two or three candidates would be allowed to run and they would require the support of more than half the members of a nominating committee that is likely to be made up mainly of Beijing loyalists.

Lau believed the visit would be aimed at clearing any doubts in the business sector about reform.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Li Yuanchao met representatives of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong in Beijing yesterday.

It was the first visit by business leaders since Beijing made its ruling on Sunday, and Li called on the city's commercial, industrial and professional elites to show their support.

After the meeting, the association's president, Irons Sze Wing-wai, said: "The vice-president has said that the city's electoral system cannot be decided by 'street politics'… and he said some people should not oppose NPC decisions [just] because they are deemed as not being able to stand in the election."

The spokesmen for two other chambers - the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce - failed to confirm if they had been invited to Beijing.

The New People's Party and Federation of Trade Unions will be in Beijing in the middle of the month for separate visits.