Friday, 13 September 2013

Playing into Occupy Central's Hands?

Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong
Looks like Beijing is forcing Occupy Central's hand by declaring the public will not be allowed to nominate candidates for Hong Kong's next leadership race in 2017.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the liaison office wrote in an open letter published yesterday, ruling out a "civic nomination" of allowing candidates to run for the top job if they had a certain proportion of voters' nominations.

He said a provision in the city's mini-constitution requires candidates to be chosen by a "broadly representative nominating committee".

"The electoral method for the chief executive has to comply with the Basic Law," Zhang wrote. "Article 45 of the Basic Law states that nomination is by a broadly representative nominating committee... there is no other option. Civil nomination has neglected the requirements stated in the Basic Law," Zhang said.

He was responding to democrat Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit, who proposed that having the public nominate candidates does not go against the Basic Law.

It all hinges on how "broadly representative nominating committee" is interpreted. In Zhang's case, it's the existing format, whereas Leong sees "broadly" as a much wider base.

We are wondering how Beijing's latest decision is going to work, considering it has promised to allow Hong Kong people to vote in 2017, yet no outline has been given.

Zhang's statement only plays further into Occupy Central's plans to go ahead with civil disobedience.

The Chinese government doesn't want to be seen as negotiating with Benny Tai, one of the founders of Occupy Central, but at the same time it leaves the group no choice but to press ahead.

Beijing will just continue its stubborn stance and may think Occupy Central will give up its cause; but it will not work. If Hong Kong was in China, the government would have already quashed Occupy Central and thrown the likes of Tai into detention and not heard of for months until finally he would be charged with subversion, convicted, then thrown in jail together with Liu Xiaobo.

But this is Hong Kong, and so Beijing better think carefully about how it deals with the city and its people. China's knee-jerk bullying will not go down well in Hong Kong -- it will only make Hong Kong people more determined to fight for their rights.

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