24 October 2018
Nearly 750,000 people have cast their vote in the civil referendum on electoral reforms in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ
Nearly 750,000 people have cast their vote in the civil referendum on electoral reforms in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

US signals support for Hong Kong political reforms

Washington has signaled its support for electoral reforms in Hong Kong, with an official pointing out that the chief executive will enjoy greater legitimacy and authority if the public have a bigger say in the system.

An open society with high level of autonomy and legal rule are very important to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, a State Department spokesperson said, according to Apple Daily.

The remarks came as Hong Kong people were participating in an unofficial referendum this week on proposed reforms for the chief executive election. Pro-democracy activists have been calling for direct elections and universal suffrage. 

Some observers are interpreting the US official’s comments as a sign of support for the ongoing civil vote, although the official made no direct reference to the event.

The British consulate in Hong Kong, meanwhile, has refused to comment on the referendum.

Elsewhere, Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called on the Hong Kong government and Beijing to respect the vote and respond to Hong Kong people’s call for genuine elections.

In a statement, the DPP also criticized China’s recent white paper on Hong Kong, saying the document violates the “one country, two systems” principle. It added that the white paper has also added to the hard feelings among Taiwan people toward the Chinese government

Top legal experts in the mainland have, meanwhile, criticized the civil referendum. At a seminar on the white paper in Beijing on Wednesday, the experts said the vote is just an opinion poll and that it does not have any legal basis, China News Service reported Wednesday.

Among the experts were Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee and director of the Centre of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Law Studies at Peking University; Qi Pengfei, director of the Renmin University’s Research Centre on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan; and Peking University law professor Chen Duanhong.

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EJ Insight reporter

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