Beijing defends HK vote plan after foreign criticism
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.