Washington has voiced support for the next chief executive of Hong Kong to be elected by a method that the city’s residents judge to be “credible”.
While avoiding taking a stance on which method the city should use to elect its next leader, a spokesman for the United States Department of State said an election deemed credible by the people would in turn give credibility to whoever is elected.
That would be beneficial to the long-term stability of the territory, the department said.
“We are not taking positions about what particular [electoral] formula is right for [Hong Kong]. But we certainly believe that an approach that is judged credible by the people of Hong Kong will extend credibility to the person who is ultimately selected as the chief executive and contribute to the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong,” the spokesman told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.
He was speaking after US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Beijing earlier this week for the latest round of strategic and economic talks between the US and China.
Kerry met Chinese officials, and the subject of Hong Kong was discussed.
“There was discussion of Hong Kong…[Mr Kerry] underscored our support for the application of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, the Basic Law, and universal suffrage in connection with the 2017 election of the chief executive,” the spokesman said.
“The secretary made clear that the US respects and recognises the sensitivities of the issue [of universal suffrage] and the importance of the issue.”
The spokesman said the Chinese officials had also expressed their views, but did not elaborate.
In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to submit a report on electoral reform for the 2016 Legislative Council elections and 2017 chief executive election to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee next week.
Almost 800,000 people called for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the top job in an unofficial referendum.
Beijing has rejected the idea of public nomination, and called the public poll “illegal”.
Pan-democrats fear that without some form of public nomination, the central government would be able to screen out candidates it does not want to stand through a nominating committee that would be stacked with Beijing-friendly members.
On July 1, at least 140,000 and as many as 510,000 people marched through Hong Kong Island calling for democracy and an open election in 2017.