Senior Chinese politician says Beijing will have final word, dashing hopes of fully democratic 2017 election in Hong Kong
Reuters in Hong Kong
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 28 March 2013 08.29 GMT
Hong Kong remains a beacon of democratic reform and civil liberties in China
Hopes that Hong Kong's 2017 election will be genuinely democratic have been dashed after a senior Chinese politician said Beijing would have the final say on who was appointed the next leader.
Qiao Xiaoyang, the chairman of the law committee of the National People's Congress, said China would not allow someone who confronted Beijing to become Hong Kong's leader.
"First, the nomination committee will decide. Then voters in Hong Kong will decide. Lastly, the central government will decide whether to appoint or not," Qiao said in a closed-door seminar, according to a transcript posted online.
Albert Ho, Hong Kong's Democratic party representative, said the move was a "pre-emptive strike" to contain people's expectations of universal suffrage.
"It's fake universal suffrage, and it's not much better than the uncontested elections they have in Beijing," Ho said.
"Beijing is very skillful. They hold all the cards. They exert pressure, contain expectations, then they'll make sure they get the chief executive they want."
Media reports quoted pro-democracy groups as saying that if Beijing failed to deliver universal suffrage which met global standards, they would organise mass protests next year to block traffic in Hong Kong's central business district.
Hong Kong remains a beacon of democratic reform and civil liberties in China, which wants to see the self-ruled island of Taiwan reunited with the mainland, perhaps under a similar arrangement to Hong Kong.