Newspaper article International New York Times

China Warns Hong Kong over Possible Protests ; Vice President Declares That Group Fighting for Vote Threatens Prosperity

Newspaper article International New York Times

China Warns Hong Kong over Possible Protests ; Vice President Declares That Group Fighting for Vote Threatens Prosperity

Article excerpt

Li Yuanchao, a Communist Party leader, said that planned protests over universal suffrage could threaten the prosperity of the former British colony.

In the bluntest warning yet from a Chinese Communist Party leader about possible protests in Hong Kong's financial district, Vice President Li Yuanchao has called the "Occupy Central" movement an illegal initiative that would threaten the prosperity of the former British colony.

Mr. Li's comments, which were reported in Hong Kong newspapers on Friday, enumerated the Chinese government's worries about "Occupy Central," a group seeking to ensure that efforts to liberalize Hong Kong's electoral system are not diluted by demands from Beijing. The group's organizers say the Chinese Communist leadership and its supporters in Hong Kong could fatally undercut promises of universal suffrage with conditions that constrict the range of candidates to lead the territory and limit the influence of voters.

The organizers of "Occupy Central with Love and Peace," to use its full name, have warned that if they conclude that proposed electoral changes that emerge from consultations fall short of genuine universal suffrage, they will hold civil disobedience protests in Central, a district crowded with the offices of banks and businesses.

Mr. Li stated Beijing's opposition while meeting a delegation of Hong Kong journalists and media company executives on Thursday.

"Regarding some people who have launched the Occupy Central movement, Li Yuanchao pointed out that Occupy Central is unlawful, would delay universal suffrage and wreck the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," reported Ta Kung Pao, a Hong newspaper aligned with the Chinese government. According to the paper, Mr. Li said that the party leadership was "adamantly opposed to Occupy Central."

Mr. Li repeated the Chinese government's position that Hong Kong's top official, called the chief executive, "must conform to the standard of loving the country and loving Hong Kong." Critics of Chinese policy have said that phrase is a euphemism for leaders who will be pliant enforcers of Beijing's demands.

A British colony until 1997, Hong Kong is now under Chinese sovereignty but maintains its own laws and administration. …

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