Zhang’s open letter, sent to a major pro-democracy group, the Civic Party, quoted the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, as saying that all candidates could only be nominated by a “broadly representative nominating committee.”
That means the nominations will instead come from a small election committee stacked with Beijing loyalists who would essentially veto any opposition candidates from running.
“The electoral method for the chief executive has to comply with the Basic Law,” Zhang wrote. “Article 45 of the Basic Law states that nomination is by a broadly representative nominating committee … there is no other option. Civil nomination has neglected the requirements stated in the Basic Law.”
Chinese government representatives and pro-Beijing groups in Hong Kong are attempting to downplay hopes for the 2017 election, which is due to be the freest the city has ever seen (but still not like, free).
One of the organisers of Occupy Central, a protest movement which plans to shutdown Hong Kong’s business district in summer 2014 to drive home the public’s desire for political reform in the city, called for the public to be given a vote in how the election is run.
“Although it would be a non-binding referendum, the exercise would serve as an important reference of public opinion,” Chan said on RTHK radio.
Writing in the SCMP, British foreign minister Hugo Swire called for the people of Hong Kong to be given a “genuine choice” in the 2017 election:
What democracy with universal suffrage in Hong Kong will look like is, of course, for the governments of Hong Kong and China – and the people of Hong Kong – to decide in line with the Basic Law. There is no perfect model anywhere in the world, but the important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice to enable them to feel they have a real stake in the outcome. This is no easy undertaking, but then few things worth having are.
Hong Kong is often held up as an example for potential unification between China and Taiwan, despite Beijing’s near immediate and constant meddling in the city since it acquired it from the UK in 1997. Anti-China groups in Hong Kong recently ran full page ads in several Taiwanese newspapers attacking the “sinicization” of the city:
Chinese government promised to allow high degree of autonomy and keep Hong Kong’s system unchanged for 50 years. However, current major policies like city planning, population, housing etc. doesn’t prioritise Hongkongers’ interests, making Hongkongers very angry. Hong Kong should be the city that gives Hongkongers priority. For the future of Hong Kong, the stepdown of the Chief Executive is the only way to go. Give back Hongkongers the ideal home.
[Image credit: @peregrinari]