A senior member of the Basic Law Committee yesterday joined Beijing's efforts to mobilise Hong Kong's district councillors to rally round the city's government amid the debate on electoral reform. It was "a matter of stability or upheaval" for the city, said Zhang Rongshun.
In a closed-door meeting in Beijing with more than 40 district councillors, Zhang, vice-chairman of the committee, urged them to take part in the ongoing consultation in a pragmatic and rational way, a participant said.
He added that the central government's wish for the city to attain universal suffrage in 2017 according to the Basic Law was earnest and sincere.
After the two-hour meeting, Hong Kong's secretary for home affairs, Tsang Tak-sing, said: "The central government earnestly and sincerely wants to promote political development in Hong Kong and realise the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017 by following the Basic Law.
"This concerns Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. It's a matter of stability or upheaval, so this is no laughing matter. The hope is that people from all sectors will pragmatically and rationally take part in it."
The delegation went to neighbouring Tianjin yesterday afternoon to visit a community centre and an Airbus A320 assembly line, as part of a four-day trip which ends today.
Tsang said yesterday that they did not discuss any particular reform plans at the meeting.
The plans include one put forward by a group of 26 pan-democrat lawmakers known as the Alliance for True Democracy.
The alliance wants to see a three-track system in which candidates can be chosen by public nomination or through support from political parties. The choices would then be rubber-stamped by a nominating committee, the body responsible under the Basic Law for officially nominating candidates.
The Basic Law calls for a "broadly representative" nominating committee, but controversy remains over how it will be formed and perform its role. The role of district councillors on this committee is one of the points of contention.
Senior figures in the Beijing-loyalist and pan-democratic camps have proposed including all 412 elected district councillors in the nominating committee.