News / Asia

Hong Kong Leader Says Chinese Rules to Prevail in 2017 Vote

FILE - Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, July 15, 2014.
FILE - Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, July 15, 2014.

Hong Kong's leader told Beijing on Tuesday that the city's residents wanted a full election in 2017, but said the financial hub would have to abide by the restrictive framework set down by China's Communist authorities.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offered no firm proposal, but said the contest would be run according to the “Basic Law,” or mini-constitution, that has governed Hong Kong since Britain returned it to Chinese rule in 1997, rather than international standards.

That document stipulates that candidates for the position of chief executive must be approved in advance by a “broadly representative” special committee. The city's pro-democracy opposition fears it will be shut out of the poll.


Hundreds of thousands marched through Hong Kong on July 1 in support of full democracy.

Leung said the principle of universal suffrage in the 2017 poll “will be an important milestone of the democratic development of Hong Kong's political system, with significant real impact and historic meaning.”

“The Hong Kong community is generally eager to see the implementation of universal suffrage for the... election in 2017,” he said in his report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC), China's parliament.

He later told a news conference that the difficulties in forging a local consensus were not to be underestimated, but said: “Hong Kong people are rational and pragmatic.”

“What is important is that if the international standards do not comply with the Basic Law and the decisions of the NPCSC we have to follow the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision,” he said.

Leung's report immediately sparked minor protests.

Three pro-democracy lawmakers were removed from the Legislative Council's chamber for unruly behavior, including one who shouted “no caged elections."

Outside, a handful of pro-democracy protesters were out-numbered by hundreds of elderly activists from pro-Beijing groups, many waving red Chinese national flags.

China stresses sovereignty

Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems” allowing it broad autonomy and far more freedom of speech, assembly and religion than exists on the mainland. But China has made it plain that Beijing's sovereignty cannot be questioned.

Both the United States and Britain have intensified calls to implement democratic reforms amid broader concerns about the future of Hong Kong's core freedoms and independent judiciary.

Neither has spelled out precise democratic models, stressing only that the 2017 poll must be publicly credible. Britain made no mention of democracy for Hong Kong until the dying days of 150 years of colonial rule that ended in 1997.

Leung's presentation followed a five-month consultation on democracy in the former British colony that drew nearly 125,000 public submissions.

His report also appeared to reflect a key concern of Beijing's leadership, saying that public opinion supported the notion that Hong Kong's next leader needed to be “a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong."

The report marked one of the most significant steps yet in Hong Kong's political journey - an experiment with democracy in communist-controlled China.

It comes amid a hot political summer in Hong Kong after the mass march and an unofficial referendum last month on possible election models. Nearly 800,000 took part.

A campaign of choreographed civil disobedience threatens to paralyze Hong Kong's glitzy central financial district unless Beijing allows full democracy.

Leung's report said “mainstream opinion” was that under the Basic Law - Beijing's proposed committee to put forward candidates must retain its powers.

“Such power of nomination must not be undermined or bypassed directly or indirectly,” the report said.

Unionist and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the report was an attempt to “close the door” and suggested that activists might have to resort to civil disobedience and “more drastic methods.”

The Standing Committee of China's parliament is due to rule on the need for reform in August after which Hong Kong residents will be asked to comment on a range of options.

Hong Kong's legislature must then vote in any changes.


You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs