Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, has canceled a proposed visit to Hong Kong to meet pan-democrats early next month, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday, citing sources close to the government.
The decision came after all 27 pan-democratic members of the Legislative Council pledged in a joint statement Monday to vote down any proposal for electoral reform based on the framework the NPCSC handed down August 31.
Sources told the newspaper the central government felt that the pan-democrats lack a sincere desire to communicate, undermining the purpose of Li’s visit.
The pan-democrats responded that they were merely restating their well-known position and that the central government was trying to pass to them the blame for not being willing to communicate.
Sources said Beijing was unimpressed with the pan-democrats highlighting in their joint statement that the NPCSC’s framework is unconstitutional.
The pan-democrats’ said in their statement on Aug. 20 they would “reject a universal suffrage proposal that does not meet international standards”, but they have now upped the ante by calling the NPCSC’s plan unconstitutional, the sources told the newspaper.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said last year’s milder statement was issued before the NPCSC announced its framework.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the cancellation of the meeting between Li Fei and the pan-democrats should not affect the outcome of the Legco vote on the official proposal for electoral reform.
He said Beijing decided to call off a meeting now because of poor relations with the pan-democrats. Lau said meetings can still be arranged in future.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the pan-democrats are being “politically childish” by limiting the room for discussion every time there is progress to be made on political reform.
But Leong said there has never been any room for discussion, as the central government never really wanted to give Hong Kong genuine universal suffrage.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said in a television interview Tuesday that the pan-democrats should listen to their constituents and vote for the official proposal for electoral reform.
He said those who decide to change their mind to support the government’s proposal are no traitors, while those who still think they can change or even overturn the NPC’s decision are being unrealistic.
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