05/27/2015, 00.00
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Beijing picks Tiananmen anniversary for meeting on Hong Kong’s political future

The Chinese government wants to meet with Hong Kong legislators on the day the territory holds its traditional pro-democracy rally. Hong Kong’s chief executive calls on 27 pro-democracy legislators to choose between the future and an anniversary. Pro-democracy iconic figure Lee Cheuk-yan calls for a boycott of the Shenzhen meeting.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Chinese government has summoned the members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) to discuss the autonomous region’s political future at a meeting scheduled for 4 June, the day when the former British colony remembers the martyrs of Tiananmen Square.

Hong Kong’s 27 pro-democracy LegCo members have already announced their intention to boycott the event, which they deem a provocation. For the region’s pro-Beijing chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, pan-Democrats have to make up their mind about political reform or anniversaries.

In August 2014, the Standing Committee of China’s National People's Congress came up with a draft proposal for electoral reform in Hong Kong. It is identical to the one favoured by the Hong Kong government.

Under its terms, an Election Commission would pre-select two or three candidates for the post of chief executive whose names will then be submitted to Hong Kong voters.

When Chinese authorities made public the plan, tens of thousands of people joined the ‘Occupy Central with Peace and Love’ movement. For months, protesters peacefully confronted the local government demanding real democratic reform.

Now things are at a standstill. To pass, the proposal needs the vote of some pro-democracy legislators; however, the latter have said that they would vote against it.

To overcome this impasse, Beijing said it would conduct talks "at the highest level" on 4 June in Shenzhen, southern China.

For pan-Democrats, the date is a provocation. Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world where Chinese people can remember the events of 4 June 1989.

The commemoration begins with a vigil at Victoria Park with the participation of all sectors of society. Traditionally, Card Joseph Zen, Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus, leads a prayer for the souls of the dead.

For years, many mainland Chinese have also taken “holidays” in the former British colony in order to attend the moving ceremony.

Every year, event organisers call on Communist China to change its view of the 1989 movement, from counterrevolutionary to patriotic.

At the same time, they want Beijing to implement democratic rule in China and Hong Kong, where universal suffrage is not in place.

Pan-democrats who will give the meeting a miss include League of Social Democrats chairman "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Lee Cheuk-yan, a former chairman of the rally’s organising organisation, the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

For both, it is more important to mark the 26th anniversary of the military crackdown that ended China’s own pro-democracy movement on 4 June 1989 in Beijing.

Hong Kong’s chief executive disagrees. "There are activities related to June 4 every year . . . and this year isn't a big year” like the 20th or 25th, he said.

“[M]any people [are] taking part in June 4 [events] in various capacities, but on political reform, lawmakers are the only ones who can vote so that five million [eligible voters in] Hong Kong can elect their chief executive directly.”

Hence, "Is it more important for lawmakers to take part in June 4 activities or . . . Shenzhen? I think they can make a choice."

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