Hong Kong submits electoral reform report to Beijing

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong on 15 July 2014. Mr Leung said in his report submitted to Beijing that electoral reform is needed in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has kick-started a political reform process by submitting a report to Beijing about the prospect of universal suffrage in the territory.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying formally acknowledged that every eligible citizen should be able to cast a vote for the city's next leader.

But he also said that mainstream Hong Kong society agreed with Beijing on how electoral reform should proceed.

This drew fire from activists who said he had misrepresented public opinion.

China has promised to change the way the chief executive of Hong Kong is selected. Currently the person for that post is chosen by a 1,200-member committee.

Beijing has said the Hong Kong public will have universal suffrage by 2017 and will be able to directly vote in their chief executive.

However, Beijing has also stipulated that voters can only choose from a list of candidates pre-selected by a nominating committee.

Activists say this is not true democracy, and fear China will use the committee to screen out candidates it disapproves of. They have called for the Hong Kong public to be given the right to nominate candidates.

Tens of thousands took part in a pro-democracy rally on 1 July and nearly 800,000 took part in an unofficial referendum on democratic reform in June.

Mr Leung said in his report that "there is a need to amend the method" for selecting the chief executive in 2017 in order to attain the aim of universal suffrage."

He said that "mainstream opinion" was that only a nominating committee should have the power to choose candidates, as this is stated in the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution.

But he did add that there are "considerable views" that an element of public nomination should be allowed.

Electoral assistants count ballots at a polling station after the last day of civil referendum held by the Occupy Central organisers in Hong Kong on 29 June 2014 Nearly 800,000 people in Hong Kong voted in an unofficial referendum in June on democratic reform
Demonstrators march during a pro-democracy rally seeking greater democracy in Hong Kong on 1 July 2014 as frustration grows over the influence of Beijing on the city. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets on 1 July for a pro-democracy rally

Mr Leung's comments were met with swift derision by pro-democracy group Occupy Central, the organisers of June's referendum.

It said on its Twitter account that Mr Leung "has an amazing ability to ventriloquise 'majority opinion'" and made "questionable assertions" regarding the community's views.

The Hong Kong presented in his report is one "many HK people won't recognise", it said, adding that it was as if the Chinese government had "dictated" views to the Hong Kong government.

Mr Leung's report was submitted after a five-month public consultation.

The Hong Kong government is expected to unveil its official plan for the 2017 election later this year.

Occupy Central has said it will mobilise 10,000 people for a sit-in protest in the city's financial district if that plan does not meet international standards for democracy.

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