08/27/2014, 00.00
CHINA - HONG KONG
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Beijing prepared to crack down on Hong Kong's democracy movement

by Wang Zhicheng
Local representatives to the National People's Congress defend Beijing's position. Hong Kong's chief executive threatens to strip foreign residents of their voting rights, insisting that Beijing does not have to follow "international standards" for democracy.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Beijing is "well prepared" to deal with emergencies in Hong Kong, once its proposal for democratic reform are made public over the weekend.

The Occupy Central movement has vowed to block the Central district with a large sit-in if the Chinese proposal does not meet the standards of democracy. However, Hong Kong's chief executive said that Beijing is not bound by "international standards" for democracy.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee has been meeting in the past few days with representatives of the Hong Kong government on rules for the 2017 election for chief executive.

For years, Hong Kong's pro-democracy parties have been pushing for universal suffrage.

For the past year, the Occupy central movement has been holding a permanent sit-in near Hong Kong's Legislative Council building, and is threatening a huge protest to block the city's business district.

In recent weeks, through its representatives, China has suggested that it will accept universal suffrage, but only if candidates are chosen by a special committee (under its control).

Candidates will have to prove to be "patriotic" (love the motherland first and foremost) and not show opposition to the central government in Beijing.

Some officials have even called for an invasion by China's People's Liberation Army to stop protests.

Some Hong Kong delegates are at the meeting of the National People's Congress Standing Committee in Beijing as representatives of the Autonomous Region.

"Some incidents might happen after the Standing Committee of National People's Congress makes its decision on Sunday, [but] the central government has already been well prepared for them mentally," said the committee chairman Zhang Dejiang, as quoted by Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a delegate to the top national legislature.

Hong Kong's current chief executive C.Y. Leung defended China, saying that Beijing can do as it pleases. "The Basic Law simply does not state the term 'international standards'," he said.

"If the election in 2017 must fulfil international standards, should we deprive foreigners who are among the 5 million qualified voters . . . of the right to universal suffrage?" he asked.

At present, foreigners who are permanent residents can vote in the Autonomous Region under a clause introduced by Great Britain before the handover of Hong Kong to China to help the former crown colony to maintain its freedom and international character.

According to some legal experts, China could use Leung's remarks to suppress the democratic movement.

The Chief Executive has been criticised for failing to present to China all the concerns of the people of Hong Kong.

In a report on public opinion towards democratic reforms in Hong Kong, he did not mention the referendum on democracy, which saw 800,000 people vote, nor the pro-democracy demonstrations that brought together hundreds of thousands of people.

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