Under fire from mainland interests for a trip to the US and Canada, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang yesterday appealed to Beijing to consider the electoral reform plan put forward by her group on its merits.
"I hope [Beijing] would look at the merits of the proposal ... but not target the individuals," Chan said when asked about the potential impact of her trip, with Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, on Hong Kong 2020's proposal.
"It is not the Anson Chan proposal, but a proposal put together by a group of people," Chan said.
Anson Chan: 'We don't want Hong Kong to turn into another Chinese city’
Hong Kong 2020, the group convened by the former chief secretary, has suggested a city-wide ballot to elect part of the nominating committee which will officially put forward candidates for the public vote on the next chief executive.
Chan said the international community was looking at the city's political direction.
But a core figure in the pan-democratic camp, who asked for anonymity to avoid any repercussions of speaking out against heavyweights Chan and Lee, said the duo's US visit would not help negotiations with Beijing on the chief executive election and could hinder them.
"At the end of the day, Hongkongers will have to rely on themselves in fighting for universal suffrage, and not any foreign countries," the source said. "Hong Kong is just part of the chess game between the US and China. The US would not forsake its tremendous interest in China for Hong Kong's democracy."
The pair's meetings with US Vice-President Joe Biden and other senior US officials drew fierce criticism from state media outlets Xinhua, Global Times and People's Daily for "attracting foreign intervention". One editorial accused them of having "a fetish for Western authority".
Chan said it was natural for the international community to be concerned with the city.
"Various countries have citizens living or working in Hong Kong ... some of the activities are premised on values including 'one country, two systems' and the high autonomy of the city," she told RTHK. "If those values are gone the foreign businesses have to plan for themselves."
Speaking with Chan, Lee said he believed that acceptance of her group's proposal would be down to the will of President Xi Jinping . "If he thinks [Hong Kong 2020's] proposal is acceptable, it would be still okay if Anson was travelling around the world," he said, referring to the state media criticism.
The veteran pan-democrat said the "cold fact" is that the final say on suffrage lies with Beijing. "The Hong Kong government dare not have its say on electoral reform. It is a cold fact that Hongkongers cannot determine for themselves."