POLITICS
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Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Beijing to 2017 candidates: You don't have to love us - but you can't oppose us

A would-be chief executive should not oppose one-party rule, NPC head also tells lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 September, 2014, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 September, 2014, 8:05am

Candidates for chief executive "do not have to love the Communist Party, but they cannot be opposed to the party and its one-party rule", National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang was quoted as saying yesterday.

Street protests such as Occupy Central would never persuade Beijing to agree to greater democracy, Zhang was also said to have told a Hong Kong delegation in Beijing led by lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

Ip, chairwoman of the New People's Party, quoted Zhang as saying that he was "very unhappy" that "some people" in Hong Kong planned "unlawful actions" to defy the decision of the NPC Standing Committee on Hong Kong's political reform.

Party vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said the state leader had given a broad definition of "loving the country, loving Hong Kong", which Beijing has insisted must be a requirement for any candidates for the top job.

"He said a chief executive candidate should be someone who loves the country and loves Hong Kong," Tien said. "He also said those people do not have to love the Communist Party, or swear allegiance to it, but cannot be opposed to it and its one-party rule."

Zhang added that the pan-democrat camp encompassed a wide political spectrum, according to Tien. "It begs the question of whether anyone with a bit of a pan-democrat background could run in the election," he said.

Zhang's definition is reminiscent of that given by late patriarch Deng Xiaoping in June 1984. Deng said at the time that "a patriot is one who respects the Chinese nation, sincerely supports the motherland's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong and wishes not to impair Hong Kong's prosperity and stability".

Deng added that "we don't demand that they be in favour of China's socialist system".

Last month, Beijing ruled that while Hong Kong can pick its leader by "one person, one vote" in 2017, only two or three candidates with majority support from a 1,200-strong nominating committee could run.

Pan-democrats vowed to veto an electoral reform proposal that included the restrictions demanded by Beijing, saying it would deprive Hongkongers of a genuine choice of candidates.

Ip said Zhang reiterated street protests like Occupy Central could never sway the central government.

"Moreover, the decision has been made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. It's impossible that activities like Occupy Central, head-shaving and class boycotts could make the central government change its mind," she said.

Zhang also reiterated the need for "rational" discussion in pressing ahead with political reform.