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Hong Kong Polarized Over Voting Reforms

September 01, 2014

by VOA News

Hong Kong police have dispersed pro-democracy activists who heckled a senior Chinese official as he tried to explain Beijing's decision to tightly control nominations for the territory's chief executive.

As Li Pei, deputy director of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, began an address to Hong Kong lawmakers Monday, he was shouted down by pro-democracy activists and legislators.

"The Beijing regime tries to devastate what they have promised for the Hong Kong people, One Country Two Systems," said Leung Kwok-hung, one of the legislators. "I think universal suffrage means there should be no censorship on the candidates on any election."

Li continued his speech after police forced the protesters out of the venue.

"We all know to occupy Central is illegal," Li said. Countless historical examples and real-life experiences from China's history and abroad tell us that if we bend down to the radical and illegal movements triggered by some people, it will only lead to more illegal movements at a greater scale. Therefore, when the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress made its decision, it comprehensively considered the situation, and with the aim to protect the rule of law and safeguard Hong Kong's long-term stability, decisively formulated its policy," said Li, explaining the decision.

China's powerful Standing Committee ruled Sunday that candidates to become Hong Kong's next leader must receive a majority vote from a "broadly representative" nominating committee that opponents say will be stacked with pro-Beijing members.

That ruling makes it unlikely that any opposition candidates will get on the ballot for the 2017 election.

Hundreds of pro-democracy supporters later rallied in a Hong Kong park outside the territory's legislature, calling Beijing's pre-screening of candidates "fake democracy."

The activists have vowed to shut down the territory's central business district following China's decision.

Leaders of the Occupy Central Movement said the decision means the group will go forward with plans to stage mass rallies in the central business district of the former British colony. They did not specify a date for the action.

All of Hong Kong's chief executives have been chosen by a small election committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists drawn mostly from business sectors.

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