Hong Kong Starts Second Round of Election Consultation
The Hong Kong government has begun its second round of consultation on how it should elect a leader, reports BBC News.
The Chinese government agreed to hold public elections for Hong Kong's leader for the first time in 2017, but it still wants control over who can and cannot run. Pro-democracy lawmakers have said that they will work to veto any government proposals that do not consitutute "genuine" democracy.
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The consultation comes the day after Hong Kong's government sent a report to Beijing on the political situation in Hong Kong, including the pro-democracy protests. The report said that "constitutional development has been an extremely controversial issue," and that a "series of unlawful rallies" had "aroused widespread concern in the community."
However, current Hong Kong leader CY Leung warned that "coercive actions that are illegal or disrupt social order" would not sway the Chinese government.
Pro-democracy campaigners and academics lashed out at the report, saying it did not reflect public demands for democracy. The Associated Press reported that several pro democracy lawmakers tore up copies of the report in defiance,
Local media reported that earlier this week, Hong Kong police called in more than 30 people they said were involved in organizing the pro-democracy protests, local media reported. They reportedly are expected to be investigated for unlawful assembly and obstructing bailiffs.
Hong Kong is administered by China under the "one country, two systems" policy, which gives the territory its own legal system and rights separate from those in mainland China, including freedom of assembly and free speech.
China's top leaders in Beijing ruled in August that voters could choose Hong Kong's leader in elections in 2017, however, it stipulated that there should only be two to three candidates, and that these would be chosen by a pro-Beijing committee.
Upset with the ruling, protestors took to the Hong Kong streets in September, with demonstrators occupying roads in three key areas of Hong Kong. The protest sites were eventually dismantled by police in December.
For public elections to take place in 2017, the Hong Kong government must pass a political reform package in its legislative council, following the second round of public consultation.
However, BBC reports that pro-democracy lawmakers hold enough seats for a veto, and have said they would vote against any package that is based on the Chinese government's ruling. They say the central government's requirements do not constitute a real democracy.