Hong Kong could pay a price if universal suffrage is not realized in 2017, according to Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang.
If Legco fails to approve electoral reforms to be put forward soon by the Hong Kong government, Beijing will feel that its international reputation has been undermined, Tsang was quoted as saying in a Sing Tao Daily report Thursday.
Such an outcome would be a setback for China because it would be a failure of the “one country, two systems” approach, which represented a promise to the international community and involved a major change to China’s constitution, he said.
Division on the issue could threaten the principles of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” and the city having a “high degree of autonomy”. Most people believe that political reform will be even harder down the track if it can’t be achieved in line with the Basic Law by 2017, he said.
Tsang said political reform rests on the decisions of the central government and the pan-democrats, and Beijing cannot settle it by offering one proposal.
“Now China is on the defensive because it thinks its opponents are going to take away its rights to rule the city while the pan-democrats think that the central government will use any means to appoint the chief executive. They need to reach a consensus that is not too controling or too liberal,” he said.
Tsang said it would be more difficult to rule Hong Kong without universal suffrage.
Tsang also said he is not sure whether Beijing and the pan-democrats can reach a compromise on the election of the city’s chief executive in 2017 but there should be better communication between the two parties to find a moderate proposal.
He said the white paper did not made any new points but was just a shift in focus.
“Beijing’s focus before 2012 was to maintain the stability and prosperity of the city but now it is to maintain the country’s autonomy,” he said, adding that it shows the central government has not been content with Hong Kong over the past 17 years because it has moved in directions that threaten the implementation of one country, two systems.
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