China legislature meets over Hong Kong election reforms

Standing committee likely to revise election method

BEIJING – The top committee of China's legislature opened a session that will discuss issues including the election method for Hong Kong's chief executive, according to state media reports here on Monday.

The meeting of the standing committee of the National People's Congress comes with some public discontent over how its next leader should be chosen in 2017. Pro-democracy campaigners from the Occupy Central group have pledged to mobilise protesters to block the financial district later this year if authorities reject the public's right to nominate candidates for the post.

But the movement has been strongly criticised by China and city officials as illegal, radical and potentially violent. At the standing committee session due to run until Sunday lawmakers will review a report from Hong Kong's current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on whether to revise the election method among other Chinese issues.

One of the organisers of Occupy Central said he was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the session. “The bottom line is universal suffrage that satisfies international standards must be granted, allowing people of different political backgrounds to contest the election,” Chan Kin-man told AFP.

He said, "If there is no room for genuine election we will be forced to launch our occupation.”. Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain on July 1, 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ agreement, which allows residents civil liberties, including free speech and the right to protest. But China is insisting that candidates be vetted before the 2017 vote.

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Aaj Kal