Western democracy "disastrous" for H.K., China's top legislator says

Hong Kong will not adopt democratic systems of foreign countries in its political development or face "disastrous consequences," China's top legislator told Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress during the annual session in Beijing on Thursday.

The warning came as Hong Kong consults the public over the leadership election in 2017 and amid prodemocracy advocates' concerns an autocratic Beijing will not favor a genuine democracy that jeopardizes its total control.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC standing committee that has final say over Hong Kong's political reform, told dozens of Hong Kong deputies during a group meeting that political development in Hong Kong must abide by the Basic Law and proceed gradually.

Universal suffrage "can't be reached at once, can't be adopted or copied from foreign countries," said Hong Kong NPC deputy and legislator Ma Fung-kwok, quoting Zhang after the closed door meeting. "Otherwise, (Hong Kong) may have 'digestive problems,' fall into the trap of democracy and bring along disastrous consequences."

The Basic Law is a mini-constitution that governs the former British colony since its return to Chinese rule in 1997. The NPC standing committee has decided Hong Kong can elect its leader by universal suffrage in as early as 2017.

While prodemocracy groups have been calling for universally accepted electoral protocols, the pro-Beijing camp has warned against deviating from what was stipulated in the Basic Law, which they claim gives sole nominating power to an elite Nominating Committee.

Apart from limiting candidates to "patriots," or Beijing loyalists, Zhang also warned against any arrangement that damages national sovereignty, safety and interests, the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government and Hong Kong's own interests, NPC standing committee member and former Hong Kong legislature chairwoman Rita Fan said.

People who exploit universal suffrage to disrupt Hong Kong's stability are dragging on the development of universal suffrage, Fan told the press of Zhang's address.