Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the make-up of the nomination panel for the 2017 election “might offer some room for maneuver” with student protesters, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
“There could be a compromise, somewhere in between, by making the nomination committee more acceptable to the students,” he told a joint interview Monday with the paper, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
The current plan would use the 1,200-member election committee that chose Leung in 2012 as a template.
Talks are due to take place between the student group leading the three-week-old protests and government officials on Tuesday, the first in what is likely to be a series of meetings between the two sides.
Leung said these are not “negotiations” but rather an opportunity for students to make their case directly to the government.
“We’d like to listen to the students as to what they have on their minds and what their proposals are,” said Leung at his official residence. “We are all ears.”
He warned the protesters not to test Beijing’s patience, saying “there is a thin line between what we do in Hong Kong and what [leaders in] Beijing think or might think they have to do”.
“So far, Beijing has left it to the Hong Kong government to deal with the situation,” Leung said.
“I think we should try our very best … to stay that way. Challenging myself, challenging [the] Hong Kong government, at these difficult times, will do no one any service, will do Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy no service.”
Protesters want the nomination process for the 2017 chief executive election opened up to the public, something the Hong Kong government has repeatedly ruled out, instead urging people to take the “deal on the table”.
“We are going to have universal suffrage in Hong Kong… that’s beyond doubt”, Leung said before reading out sections from a hardback copy of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s a mini constitution.
“If it’s entirely a numbers game – numeric representation – then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month,” he said in reference to the median per capita wage.
“You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”
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