No end to HK po­lit­i­cal battle as last-ditch dis­cus­sions fail

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Hong Kong pro- democ­racy law­mak­ers said on Sun­day they would “def­i­nitely” veto the gov­ern­ment’s planned po­lit­i­cal re­forms af­ter a last-ditch meet­ing with Chi­nese of­fi­cials failed to reach any agree­ment.

The pack­age un­veiled in April for the semi-au­ton­o­mous Chi­nese city would for the first time al­low all vot­ers to elect Hong Kong’s next chief ex­ec­u­tive in 2017.

But crit­ics de­ride the pro­posal as “fake democ­racy” be­cause it sticks to a rul­ing by China that can­di­dates must first be ap­proved by a loy­al­ist com­mit­tee.

Bei­jing’s re­stric­tions, an­nounced last Au­gust, sparked more than two months of mass ral­lies that brought main roads in parts of the city to a stand­still late last year.

Demo­cratic law­mak­ers said Sun­day they had made no progress af­ter meet­ing top Bei­jing of­fi­cials in the south­ern Chi­nese city of Shen­zhen.

The meet­ing was widely seen as the last chance for com­pro­mise be­fore Hong Kong law­mak­ers vote on the po­lit­i­cal re­form pack­age in June.

It needs a two-thirds ma­jor- ity to pass and pro-democ­racy law­mak­ers make up more than a third of the leg­is­la­ture.

“We came here ... try­ing to find a way out of the im­passe,” Civic Party leader Alan Leong told re­porters af­ter the four-hour meet­ing, which was at­tended by 14 out of 27 pro-democ­racy law­mak­ers as well as 40 pro-Bei­jing leg­is­la­tors and the city’s cur­rent leader Le­ung Chun-ying.

“We are left with an un­equiv­o­cal con­clu­sion that the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment is not go­ing to yield,” Leong said.

“We are there­fore left with no choice but to def­i­nitely veto the gov­ern­ment pro­posal.”

Wang Guangya, the direc­tor of the Hong Kong and Ma­cau Af­fairs Of­fice of the Chi­nese State Coun­cil or cabi­net, said it was “un­for­tu­nate” that the democrats were unit­ing to stop the plan.

“The other side be­haved like a bloc, hold­ing on to their strict po­si­tion ... I don’t think it’s con­struc­tive or healthy,” he said af­ter the meet­ing.

Wang said law­mak­ers have a “his­toric re­spon­si­bil­ity” to cast their vote “with con­science.”

Be­fore the meet­ing Wang had said that any elec­tion plan would have to stick to Bei­jing’s rul­ing.

An­other Bei­jing of­fi­cial, Li Fei, said the vote would test whether democrats are loyal to the prin­ci­ple of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” un­der which Hong Kong is ruled, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by Bri­tain in 1997 but is largely self-gov­ern­ing and en­joys free­doms not seen on the main­land.

Li also warned dur­ing the meet­ing that law­mak­ers could be “pun­ished” by vot­ers for ve­to­ing the plan, the South China Morn­ing Post re­ported on its web­site.

On Sun­day af­ter­noon around 1,000 pro­test­ers marched through cen­tral Hong Kong to com­mem­o­rate China’s bloody crack­down on pro- democ­racy pro­test­ers in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square, ahead of the 26th an­niver­sary on June 4.

Some wore yel­low rib­bons and car­ried yel­low um­brel­las, sym­bols of Hong Kong’s democ­racy move­ment.

“We hope to have democ­racy in China so Hong Kong can get it too,” said re­tiree Chow Ka-kong, 76.

A num­ber of vig­ils will be held in Hong Kong on June 4.

AP

A pro­tester hold­ing a yel­low um­brella, the sym­bol of the democ­racy move­ment, shouts slo­gans as hun­dreds of peo­ple march on a down­town street in Hong Kong, Sun­day, May 31, to mark the 26th an­niver­sary of China’s bloody crack­down on Tianan­men Square on June 4, ahead of a much larger an­nual can­dle­light vigil.

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