In a rare show of diversion from Beijing’s position, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday voiced disagreement with a strongly-worded editorial in the state media about the strong public support for Occupy Central’s unofficial referendum on universal suffrage.
Reacting to the Global Times editorial, which said the massive turnout for the poll was “no match” for the 1.3 billion people on the mainland, Leung said it was wrong to put “the people of Hong Kong and China on confronting sides”, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported on Tuesday.
Leung said that “no matter how many people voted”, even if the figure is somewhat “questionable”, the majority of the Hong Kong residents who voted in the poll were simply expressing their desire for universal suffrage in 2017.
Although tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland are rising, the city has its own set of political, social and economic systems, which are different from the mainland, Leung said.
“I have noticed a lot of people in the Hong Kong do not want others, including the mainland government or media, to judge issues in Hong Kong,” he said. “I have also heard many mainland officials complained they don’t want the Hong Kong people to articulate their views on mainland issues.”
Leung clarified that Hong Kong people who participated in the exercise would have no criminal liability, although the referendum has no legal basis in the city.
In an editorial piece published on Monday, the Global Times said that “the Basic Law reflects the will of the whole nation as well … more than 1.3 billion people are entitled to have their say on Hong Kong’s political reform”.
As of Tuesday noon, more than 730,000 people have voted in the poll on how the next chief executive should be chosen in 2017, media reports said.
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