Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei warned yesterday that national security would be threatened if someone who confronted the central government became Hong Kong's chief executive.
The comments came in a meeting with media executives from the city, who were told by top Beijing officials on Thursday that Occupy Central was an "illegal" movement that "damages the prosperity and stability" of the city.
"The biggest disagreement in society, he said, was whether Hong Kong could allow someone who was opposed to the central government to be its chief executive," Ronald Chiu Ying-chun, executive director of Cable TV, told reporters in Beijing yesterday after the closed-door meeting with Li.
"His view was that if someone against the central government became chief executive, national security would be threatened, and it would not be in the interests of Hong Kong in the long run," said Chiu, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong News Executives' Association.
"He also emphasised the importance of a nominating committee, which he said was a fair structure of the election system because then political parties would not have to eliminate its candidates," Chiu said of the major stumbling block in the discussion of the city's political reform.
The comments chime with similar parameters set by Zhang Dejiang , chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, who told NPC delegates from the city last month that the implementation of universal suffrage must not undermine national security.
The city's pan-democrats want the public to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. But the central government insists this is inconsistent with the Basic Law, saying candidates should be named by a nominating committee.
On Thursday, Vice-President Li Yuanchao, the deputy head of the Communist Party's leading group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs, and Wang Guangya , director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said Beijing strongly opposed Occupy Central as it would damage the prosperity and stability of the city.
Wang reportedly told the news executives to increase their coverage of opposition to the movement to reflect public opinion. Some critics have questioned if the comments would harm editorial independence. But Chiu said he did not feel the remarks put the news executives under pressure as "all comments made by the officials ... were in the direction that they wished we could operate objectively, fairly and impartially, as Li Yuanchao said".
"Another thing is they did not summon us here to tell us this and that. We initiated the visit and throughout the time they were only responding to questions we raised," he said.