Bei­jing de­fends HK vote plan af­ter for­eign crit­i­cism

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Bei­jing on Thurs­day de­fended Hong Kong’s plan to vet can­di­dates for its 2017 lead­er­ship elec­tion, say­ing it rep­re­sented public opin­ion “from all walks of life” in the ter­ri­tory de­spite mass pro-democ­racy protests on the is­sue last year.

The state­ment by China’s for­eign min­istry came as Hong Kong’s leader Le­ung Chun-ying hit back at “un­civ­i­lized” crit­ics af­ter he was booed and heck­led by lo­cal res­i­dents.

New York-based Hu­man Rights Watch de­nounced the elec­tion plan as a “farce,” a “re­jec­tion of in­ter­na­tional law” and a “be­trayal of demo­cratic as­pi­ra­tions in Hong Kong.”

But Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Hong Lei coun­tered: “We cer­tainly can­not agree with such ac­cu­sa­tions.”

The roadmap “rep­re­sents the public opin­ions from all walks of life in Hong Kong to­wards the ref­er­en­dum of the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hong Kong,” Hong told a regular brief­ing of re­porters.

He added that the plan “meets the re­al­i­ties of Hong Kong, ac­com­mo­dates the rights and in­ter­ests of Hong Kong peo­ple and is a vi­able, rea­son­able and prag­matic so­lu­tion.”

A se­nior Hong Kong gov­ern­ment source also hit back at HRW’s crit­i­cism.

“Up un­til now, no one has ever an­swered the ques­tion what is the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard for this un­prece­dented case, the elec­tion in the con­text of a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion un­der the one coun­try two sys­tems,” they said.

The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment kicked off a pro­mo­tional cam­paign to sell the vote plan af­ter its launch but Le­ung and his deputy, Car­rie Lam, were drowned out by pro­test­ers as they vis­ited a mid­dle-class dis­trict late Wed­nes­day.

Pro­test­ers booed the pair and blocked their path with yel­low um­brel­las, a sym­bol of the democ­racy move­ment.

“Yes­ter­day dur­ing the dis­trict visit ... there were some heck­lers who kept us­ing loud voices and quite un­civ­i­lized words to try to speak over oth­ers,” Le­ung told re­porters Thurs­day.

“It’s not demo­cratic be­hav­ior,” he said.

‘Ut­ter ca­pit­u­la­tion to Bei­jing’

Cur­rently the city’s leader is cho­sen by a 1,200-strong elec­tion com­mit­tee.

Bei­jing has promised uni­ver­sal suf­frage for the 2017 vote, but has said that can­di­dates must be ap­proved first by a nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee.

“The cen­tral gov­ern­ment con­sis­tently sup­ports ef­forts to ad­vance the demo­cratic devel­op­ment” in the ter­ri­tory, Bei­jing’s Hong Kong and Ma­cau Af­fairs Of­fice said on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to state news agency Xin­hua.

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