The National People's Congress Standing Committee kicks off a week-long meeting today that will play a decisive role over whether Hong Kong will elect its new leader by one person, one vote for the first time in 2017.
Apart from Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the city's sole representative on the Standing Committee, an unprecedented number of local deputies to the national legislature was invited to this week's meeting in Beijing. Twelve local NPC delegates were invited.
But after a series of talks concluded last Friday with Beijing officials issuing warnings about the impact democracy might have on national security, it now appears unclear whether the Standing Committee will adopt a tough framework for reform in Hong Kong.
A framework unacceptable to the city's pan-democrats may lead to large-scale civil disobedience, in the form of the Occupy Central campaign. Pan-democrats are threatening to rally protesters to block the central business district if the Hong Kong and central governments do not come up with a satisfactory plan for universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election.
At a meeting in Shenzhen last Friday, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei dropped a strong hint on the matter, reiterating that the minority in the nomination committee should "submit to a majority" decision.
But pan-democrats argue that this requirement is unreasonable because even the structure of the election committee that selected the city's current chief executive required a hopeful to have the support of just one-eighth of the committee.
Andrew Yao Cho-fai, one of the 12 expected at the meeting today, said he would tell the Standing Committee to leave room for discussion on the reform's details, but suggested that he did not object to a 50 per cent threshold.
"I will reflect on the different public opinions in Hong Kong … and I think there should be more talks on the nominating committee's size," he said.