Chinese officials talk tough in H.K. political reform meeting

A China-Hong Kong democracy talk wrapped up Friday with a Chinese official hurling brickbats at a call for genuine democracy and criticizing those in the territory planning a civil disobedience movement in anticipation of Beijing's tough stance on the territory's political reform.

Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, told reporters that Hong Kong people who want to elect their leader by a means outside the scope of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's quasi-Constitution under Chinese rule, should be "rightfully condemned."

"How on earth could this rationale stand?" Li said. "How could these people ask for a person who challenges the central authorities to be allowed to run in the (leadership) election?"

He went on to say that bowing to threats even once would only bring chaos, while urging the "love China, love Hong Kong" sects in the territory to continue fighting against the movement.

Two scholars and a reverend have been leading a campaign in Hong Kong called Occupy Central, which threatens to paralyze the central business district if Beijing does not endorse a democratic leadership election in 2017.

Li was also reported to have said that open nomination, which would give ordinary people the right to nominate candidates for the election, is neither a legal nor viable option.

Democratic Party member Law Chi-kwong said after the meeting he felt distressed to learn that Li does not worry if Hong Kong falls into chaos.

"A polarized society will not be conducive to state security," he said.

Beijing equates the need to pick a "patriotic" Hong Kong leader with ensuring state sovereignty, safety and development.

The meeting between Li's group of officials and some 300 Hong Kong lawmakers and leaders of sociopolitical groups was held in the mainland city of Shenzhen. It preceded a scheduled week-long session by the National People's Congress Standing Committee in Beijing next Monday, in which some 170 members will discuss the 2017 chief executive election.

The Standing Committee has already decided that Hong Kong can elect its next leader by universal suffrage in 2017 but left the nominating procedures open, which prodemocracy advocates say opens a backdoor for Beijing's ultimate control of the election outcome.

Beijing claims that allowing a one-person, one-vote system in the leadership election is a massive advance in Hong Kong's democracy development.