A Chinese central government official in Hong Kong says Beijing will declare an emergency in the territory if the local political situation gets out of control.
The warning Thursday by Hao Tiechuan, director of communications for the Chinese government's office in Hong Kong, follows an announcement of an alternative election plan by 26 pro-democracy lawmakers in the territory.
Hao told reporters Thursday that any attempt to reduce the power of the Beijing-designated nomination committee, which selects the territory's chief executive, is against the spirit of the Basic Law, which has governed the territory since its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
He did not elaborate on what would happen if an emergency was declared.
The Alliance for True Democracy announced a "three-track" plan Wednesday to include a citizen nomination and a party nomination, in addition to the existing committee nomination system.
Alliance organizer Joseph Cheng said the group hopes the proposal will mobilize citizens to push for change.
"This is the sole plan for our whole pro-democracy movement. We don't have a Plan B," he said. "Before the Hong Kong government puts forward its plan, our Alliance will rally full support from citizens. Any party or member groups who wish to be on our side understands they should do their best to promote our plan."
The Hong Kong government is currently holding consultations with politicians and ordinary citizens on the way elections are conducted. But so far it has not given any indication that it will consider major changes.
The 26 lawmakers represent many pro-democracy parties and groups in Hong Kong.
Alan Leong, leader of the Civic Party, said his party fully supports the three-track plan, because it is what is needed for the battle for public support to elect the Hong Kong Chief in 2017.
"We hope to win public authorization, for this plan to become a guidance to win the election our way," said Leong. "If we cannot do it our way, then we will go and occupy the central district of Hong Kong."
Leong said the Hong Kong people should not ask Beijing what kind of election to have, but ask themselves what kind Hong Kong needs.
The Alliance said that it will promote their plan in all neighborhoods in Hong Kong in February, soon after the Chinese lunar new year.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Cantonese service.