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China Rejects Open Nomination for Election of Hong Kong Leader

A Chinese national flag, left, and a Hong Kong SAR flag fly outside the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg
A Chinese national flag, left, and a Hong Kong SAR flag fly outside the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Hong Kong public can’t nominate candidates for the next chief executive election under the city’s de facto constitution, China’s top official in the former British colony said, rejecting a lawmaker’s proposal.

The city’s Basic Law states that candidates for the chief executive position have to be nominated by a “broadly representative” committee, Zhang Xiaoming, director of China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said in an open letter to Alan Leong, the head of the Civic Party.

Zhang’s comments are the clearest China has made in rejecting demands from Hong Kong opposition lawmakers to allow for democracy in line with international standards in 2017, when it has pledged to allow election of the city’s leader. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was picked by a committee of billionaires, professionals and lawmakers, is facing rising calls to start consultation on arranging the vote.

“The proper way forward is to follow the Basic Law and the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s procedures, rather than straying from the law and going the wrong way,” Zhang said in the statement published on the office’s website, as he rejected Leong’s invitation to discuss the proposal at a seminar.

Leung said in an interview in June he wants to deliver on the electoral reforms, though increased democracy may lead to China’s refusal to appoint a leader elected by the city’s people. Allowing for a full exercise in democracy in Hong Kong will also contrast with the political system in China, which has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949.

Pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong have suggested options including opening the nomination to candidates who receive support from at least 2 percent of registered voters.

China’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy granted Hong Kong its own legal system under the Basic Law for 50 years from 1997. The city allows residents civil liberties including a free press and freedom of assembly not permitted in the mainland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Lee in Hong Kong at slee936@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hwee Ann Tan at hatan@bloomberg.net

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