China Says Elected Hong Kong Leader Cannot Oppose Beijing Rule

China won’t allow Hong Kong to choose a chief executive who opposes Chinese government rule, as some lawmakers in the former British colony demand universal suffrage earlier than planned in 2017.

The leader of Hong Kong “can’t plot to overthrow the rule of the Chinese Communist Party,” Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the law committee of the National People’s Congress, said in a March 24 speech, according to a transcript posted online today. “Opposition isn’t defined to mean criticizing Beijing. If it’s for the good for the country, any sort of criticism is allowed.”

Qiao’s comments to Hong Kong lawmakers have sparked criticism from politicians including Albert Ho, who had unsuccessfully contested last year’s chief executive race, criticized the criteria. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was picked by a committee of billionaires, professionals and lawmakers in 2012 as the last selected Hong Kong leader, with China earlier pledging universal suffrage in 2017.

Consultations about political reform in the city shouldn’t start until that principle is agreed upon, Qiao said in the speech, which was posted on the website of the Chinese government’s office in Hong Kong.

Foreign investors will leave Hong Kong if conflict between the chief executive and Beijing leads to political instability, and Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center will be in question, Qiao said.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said yesterday he would organize protesters to block traffic in the city’s business district in July next year unless the government delivers a blueprint for universal suffrage that meets international standards, the South China Morning Post reported today.