By David P. Griscom
The Chinese Communist party has announced that it will vet candidates for the upcoming 2017 election in Hong Kong for Chief Executive. New candidates will be approved by the 1,200 member committee, which previously picked the Chief Executive, before the public election. They have announced that there will be two to three candidates that will be selected, after which the people of Hong Kong will vote in elections, according to the BBC.
This news has been met with disappointment by many pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, who feel that this will only lead to candidates who are loyal to Beijing and are not representative of the citizens of Hong Kong. Demonstrations have taken place in parks surrounding the main government buildings in Hong Kong with a few thousand demonstrators showing their disappointment at the decision, according to TIME magazine.
Hong Kong was ceded to China from Great Britain in 1997 with special concessions that the Chinese government must follow until 2047. Among these have been free trade, independent currency, an autonomous judiciary and democratic institutions for the people of Hong Kong. In addition the low taxes of Hong Kong have made it a major business hub for Asia and the world, many arguing because of these special restrictions.
Occupy Central With Love and Peace, an organization of protestors formed to promote democracy in Hong Kong, has denounced this decision believing that it takes away from the concept of universal suffrage for Hong Kong’s citizens. This group intends to organize support to shut down Hong Kong’s main financial district with peaceful protests in the near future. Occupy Central released an official statement on the recent decision by the Communist Party, claiming that it is “killing democracy” and “the occupation of central will definitely happen.” Occupy Central also held an unofficial referendum earlier this summer to directly elect their Chief Executive and to be able to decide which candidates will be on the ballot. Nominations and elections have previously been decided by the 1,200 member committee of bureaucrats, business representatives, and special interest groups, which China has decided will still decide the candidates on the ballot in 2017.
Photo Credit – “Hong Kong Skyline Restitch – Dec 2007” by Diliff – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons