03/07/2014, 00.00
CHINA - HONG KONG

Beijing threatens Hong Kong, saying democracy will only bring disaster

For the chairman of China's National People's Congress, "some people were waving the banner of universal suffrage to undermine stability in Hong Kong." Journalists and human rights activists slam Beijing's interference in the city's affairs.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The people of Hong Kong could face "disastrous" consequences if it adopts full democracy based on foreign models. Instead, Hong Kong must carry out democratic reform based on its own laws, warned Zhang Dejiang, chairman of China's National People's Congress (NPC), amid intense political debate on elections for the chief executive of the former British colony in 2017

At present, Hong Kong's government is governed by the Basic Law, which was adopted before the former's British crown colony returned to mainland China in 1997, and which will remain in force until 2047.

Under the law, elections to the Legislative Council require a complicated series of steps that ensure a large number of seats for functional constituencies, which are close to the mainland.

By contrast, civil society groups, the Catholic Church and other religious denominations have long been calling for the adoption of universal suffrage.

Never granted under British rule, universal suffrage has been blocked since 1997 by China, which does not want to lose political control.

The 'Occupy Central' movement (pictured) has emerged to protest against this situation. It aims at putting pressure on the Hong Kong government through peaceful protests to implement full democracy in the territory.

According to Hong Kong NPC delegate Rita Fan, chairman Zhang considers the "Occupy Central" movement as the mainland's greatest enemy.

Zhang "said some people were waving the banner of universal suffrage to undermine stability in Hong Kong." For him, "This won't help the cause of universal suffrage,"

Indeed, Beijing's meddling in Hong Kong's affairs seems to be steadily increasing.

Although the city is governed by the rule of law, economic and political pressure from mainland China has risen since the great rally of 1 July 2003, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against a proposed anti-subversion bill inspired by Communist policies.

Hong Kong authorities later withdrew the draft proposal, but since then journalists and human rights activists have complained that Beijing has been tightening its control over the city. 

 

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