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A leading Chinese official has indicated that political reforms are
likely in Hong Kong while a top territory legislator said there was
no avoiding universal suffrage, reports said today.
"There will be economic, political reforms and other reforms to
improve the livelihood of people," State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan
said on the sidelines of the Communist Youth League's 15th national
Tang, in charge of Hong Kong affairs, did not elaborate on what
specific reforms he was referring to, the South China Morning Post
His comments were the first indication from Beijing that embattled
chief executive Tung Chee-hwa may speed up the political reform
process after the recent resignations of two key ministers.
In an interview with the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily,
Tsang Yok-sing, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance for the
Betterment of Hong Kong, said choosing the chief executive by
universal suffrage was the way forward.
"Universal suffrage of the chief executive is clearly the voice of
the people taking to the streets on July 1," said Tsang, leader of
the largest pro-China party in Hong Kong.
"To move ahead with the times, political parties have to consider
this, the legislature has to consider this and the government also
has to consider this".
Tung, hand-picked by Beijing, is under intense pressure after more
than 500 000 Hong Kong citizens took to the streets on July 1
demanding the shelving of a controversial subversion bill and
calling for his resignation.
He travelled to Beijing Saturday for a dressing down by China's top
leaders who are concerned about social stability in Hong Kong,
although Tung said they threw their support behind him.
Tsang said universal suffrage was an issue that "cannot be
"If the SAR government or even central government adopts a
resistant attitude towards universal suffrage of the chief
executive, it would only help the opposition to rally more people
because this subject has the support of the citizens".
The Hong Kong government has been non-committal on its stance
towards universal suffrage.
Direct elections for the chief executive are scheduled to be held
not before 2007 under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law,
with elections for currently unelected seats in the legislative
council to follow a year later.
Tung, a former shipping magnate, was picked as the sole candidate
to lead the former British colony on its return to Beijing's
control in 1997.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in Hong Kong today and was
expected to urge Tung to speed up plans for full democracy in the
city. – Sapa-AFP.