23 October 2016
A competitive election will enhance the legitimacy of any future Hong Kong leader, says the US Consulate General for Hong Kong and Macau. Photos: HKEJ
A competitive election will enhance the legitimacy of any future Hong Kong leader, says the US Consulate General for Hong Kong and Macau. Photos: HKEJ

US reiterates call for ‘meaningful choice’ in HK election

The United States has reiterated the importance of giving Hong Kong people “meaningful choice of candidates” in their chief executive election, saying a truly competitive process will only enhance the legitimacy of any new leader.

“As we have said previously, we believe that the legitimacy of the Chief Executive will be greatly enhanced if the Chief Executive is selected through universal suffrage and Hong Kong’s residents have a meaningful choice of candidates,” Scott Robinson, a spokesman for the US Consulate General for Hong Kong and Macau, told EJ Insight.

In an emailed reply, Robinson said the US has an interest in Hong Kong’s continued stability and prosperity based on “One Country, Two Systems”, the Basic Law and a high degree of autonomy.

The comments came after the Hong Kong government tabled in the legislature Wednesday a blueprint for the 2017 chief executive election which will ensure that only two or three candidates approved by a pro-Beijing committee can join the race.

Asked about the US reaction to the latest development, Robinson said it is for the Hong Kong government, the Legislative Council and the people of the city to decide whether or not to pass the proposal.

Under the government’s proposal, a 1,200-member nomination committee, with the same structure as the existing election committee, will pick two or three candidates through a vote from a potential initial list of 5 to 10 names.

A candidate must secure the support of at least 50 percent of the members of the nomination committee to be able join the race for the city’s top post. That compares with a previous requirement of 12.5 percent. 

After the nomination committee picks two or three contenders, the public will then be invited to choose from the list through “universal suffrage”.

Pan-democrats have dubbed the process as fake universal suffrage as the nominating committee — which is packed with Beijing loyalists — will weed out anyone not favorably disposed toward the central government. 

Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said Wednesday that pan-democrats will veto the government’s universal suffrage package as it does not provide Hong Kong people with real choices for their next leader.

The group will start a campaign to explain why it is better to veto the proposal than to accept it, Leong said.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council said the chief executive election proposal is practical, rational and pragmatic.

Hong Kong’s pro-establishment camp will vote in favor of the Beijing-mandated proposal.

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