A Hong Kong lawmaker has accused the central government in Beijing of trying to deter voters from participating in a civil referendum this month on electoral reform in the city.
Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit suggested that Beijing could be attempting to suppress the June 22 vote as it fears a high turnout could amplify calls for direct elections for choosing Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017.
The lawmaker urged China not to go back on its pledge to ensure a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong, RTHK reported Tuesday.
The comments came after the State Council, China’s cabinet, issued a white paper on Hong Kong policy, stressing that the city’s high degree of autonomy is subject to the oversight of the central government.
The document called for resolutely safeguarding the authority of the country’s Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong, adding that the people who govern Hong Kong “should above all be patriotic.”
The paper noted that some “wrong views” existed on political development in Hong Kong. In the document detailing the “One Country, Two Systems” practice, Beijing said “the high degree of autonomy of [Hong Kong] is not an inherent power, but one that comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership.”
It called for vigilance against what it called “external forces” that want to use Hong Kong as a means to interfere in the implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.
Executive councilor and legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung said Tuesday that the white paper can help all parties have a better understanding of the nation’s policy. Beijing’s support has helped boost the city’s economic development and competitive edge, he said.
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said he doesn’t have any problems with the white paper. He said the central government has merely stated what was already known, and that it doesn’t spell any new policy for Hong Kong.
“The white paper is targeted at a series of events, not only June 22 referendum, as Beijing has noticed that someone has taken the opposite way from what it hoped,” he added.
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