Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, has quashed any hope that Beijing’s framework for the 2017 election for Hong Kong’s chief executive may be changed before legislators vote on it this month.
At a news conference after meetings Sunday with a delegation of 54 Hong Kong legislators in Shenzhen, Li went further.
He said the framework announced by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on Aug. 31 last year “is applicable to every Hong Kong chief executive election from 2017 on”.
Li, who is also deputy secretary general of the NPCSC, said it is out of the question to change the framework before it is implemented, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
His remarks clearly showed that the pro-democracy lawmakers in the delegation had failed to narrow their differences with Beijing at the meetings, which were trumpeted as the last chance to seek a revision of the NPC decision.
The decision requires candidates for Hong Kong’s top job to be prescreened by a nominating committee, which is expected to be dominated by Beijing loyalists.
Li reportedly told the pro-democracy legislators from the delegation in a separate closed-door meeting that the Aug. 31 decision strictly follows the Basic Law and its legality is unchallengeable.
Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, were also present at that meeting.
Saying the pro-democracy legislators’ opposition to the NPC’s “prudent” decision shows their disregard of the “one country” aspect of the “one country, two systems” principle, Li told them that whether Hong Kong will work together with Beijing or remain on the wrong track in the future hinges on whether they choose to vote down the decision.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said after the meeting that the members of the pro-democracy camp will have no choice but to vote against the decision, as Beijing is sticking to its hardline stance on the electoral reform proposal.
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he was disappointed by the officials’ lack of any intention to show goodwill and narrow the differences with the pro-democrats.
He said this would only result in more division among Hongkongers.
Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and former chief adviser to the Hong Kong government, said Beijing has never changed its stance on political reform.
If the Legislative Council fails to pass the reform proposal this month, any relaunch of electoral reform in the future will also need to be based on the Aug. 31 decision, Lau said.
[April 29 – Li Fei: NPC election plan can be altered only after adoption]
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