China warns HK against referendum on democracy
Posted on: Fri January 15, 2010
HONG KONG: China on Friday warned Hong Kong s democratic lawmakers their plan for a de facto referendum on democracy would be unconstitutional, in a sign of Beijing s growing unease at recent political strains in the city. Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has grappled with Beijing s Communist Party for more than a decade over a roadmap towards universal suffrage, as guaranteed in the city s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.Five opposition democrats are poised to resign from the legislature later this month in a radical bid to wrest greater democratic concessions from Beijing after a recent blueprint for tweaking electoral methods in 2012 disappointed many democrats. Democrats have described the subsequent by-elections in five Hong Kong districts as a de facto referendum intended to unambiguously signal to Beijing the city s current desire for universal suffrage and democratic reforms as soon as possible. In its first explicit response on the move, however, China s State Council or cabinet said the referendum would violate China s Constitution and the region s Basic Law . No matter how different the opinions on the constitutional development of the SAR were, the Basic Law should be obeyed, it said in a statement, citing a State Council spokesman. The statement reiterated that Beijing would allow universal suffrage for Hong Kong s leader no earlier than 2017 as previously planned, and the legislature in 2020. Some democrats criticised Beijing s warning, and said the resignation plan was legal and would go ahead as planned. We are doing this de facto referendum lawfully, said Alan Leong, a lawmaker with the Civic Party who is expected to resign. We want to let Beijing know that the people of Hong Kong really want to see a fairer political system, and I suppose what is most important is that this thing is within the law forus to do in Hong Kong. Earlier, thousands of protesters massed outside Hong Kong s legislature in protest at a controversial and costly high-speed railway that has become a lightning rod for the venting of broader discontent at Hong Kong s lack of democracy and government accountability for major policies. Many later surged up to the residence of Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang, sparking skirmishes with police.Many camped outside the gates late into the night while yelling calls for the railway to be scrapped and for Beijing to grant full democracy. China s premier Wen Jiabao recently warned Tsang to solve deep-rooted conflicts in Hong Kong, in what analysts saw as a veiled criticism of recent political and social tensions.
Courtesy: The News