Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

HK awaits vital year in constitutional reform

By Zhang Dinghuai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-18 08:10

This year will go down as an eventful one for Hong Kong. What started as a misreading of Beijing's "One Country, Two Systems" policy for Hong Kong culminated in raucous "Occupy Central" protests. The final site of the protests was cleared by the Hong Kong police on Monday, opening the roads that had been blocked for two and half months.

To clear misunderstandings over the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, the State Council Information Office issued a White Paper titled "The Practice of the 'One Country, Two Systems' Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" on June 10. In fact, the White Paper was intended to make clear the existing political meanings of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR, which have been in force for more than 17 years.

But some people in Hong Kong misinterpreted it as Beijing's attempt to tighten the SAR's policy. And the most contentious issue became universal suffrage and election of Hong Kong's chief executive (CE) in 2017, especially the nomination process of the candidates.

According to Article 45 of the Basic Law and the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Hong Kong CE shall be elected through universal suffrage after being nominated by a broadly representative nomination committee in accordance with democratic procedures, and the nomination committee should be formed according to Annex I of the Basic Law. This means the CE should be chosen in 2017 through election - or through consultations held locally - and appointed by the central government.

The central government and the Hong Kong government want to strictly follow the Basic Law and the NPC Standing Committee's decision, while Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp wants the CE candidates to be nominated directly by voters or political parties following so-called international standards, which goes against the NPC Standing Committee's decision as well as the Basic Law.

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