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Hong Kong will be allowed to directly elect own leader by 2017, China says

Hong Kong will be allowed to directly elect own leader by 2017, China says

Beijing will allow Hong Kong to directly elect its leader by 2017 and all its lawmakers by 2020, China's government and the territory's top government official said yesterday.
But pro-democracy parties said they were disappointed that Hong Kong's people would not be able to do so sooner.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang said the decision was a "most important step" in the former British colony's political future.
Hong Kong currently elects only half its lawmakers. The leader, or chief executive, is chosen by a pro-Beijing committee.
The government in Beijing had been debating Hong Kong's political future. The official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday that China would allow direct elections for the chief executive in 2017, with the changes made gradually starting in 2012, the date of the next leadership race.
Direct elections for all lawmakers could follow in 2020 at the earliest, Tsang said in announcing Beijing's ruling.
A member of the Standing Committee of the People's National Congress - the lawmaking arm of the Chinese government - was expected to arrive in Hong Kong within hours to explain the ruling.
When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 it was granted wide-ranging autonomy and a promise that eventually it could directly elect all of its legislators, as well as its leader. Until now, however, no date had been given.
Only half of Hong Kong's 60-seat legislature is currently elected. Its chief executive is chosen by an 800-strong committee full of Beijing loyalists.
Opposition democrats say the bustling international financial center is mature enough to choose its own government and have pushed for direct elections in 2012, the date a majority of Hong Kong people stated they wanted direct elections.
"We are extremely disappointed - you could say we are furious - about this decision in ruling out 2012," Democrat Party chairman Albert Ho told Hong Kong's government-run RTHK radio station. "The wishes of the Hong Kong people have been totally ignored."
Ho was one of a few dozen Democrat Party activists who have launched a relay hunger strike outside the legislative building in the past week to highlight demands for full democracy.
Tsang urged all parties to start thinking about how to implement direct elections for the chief executive in 2017. A task force will be set up to discuss how to amend electoral methods, with the first changes made in 2012, he said at the news conference. Any changes must first gain two-thirds approval in the legislature.
While Beijing had been widely expected to allow direct elections for chief executive, some political observers were surprised that Tsang had clearly set a date for legislative elections.
"Most people had expected Beijing would allow direct elections for the chief executive in 2017. But Donald (Tsang) has made it quite clear that they also have allowed direct elections for all lawmakers by 2020," said Ivan Choy, a political analyst at the Chinese University.


Updated : 2021-06-20 21:33 GMT+08:00