Beijing 'looks forward' to Hong Kong election

Mr Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the fifth session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), waving as he arrives for a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on March 2, 2017.
Mr Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the fifth session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), waving as he arrives for a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on March 2, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Smoothly, lawfully and in an orderly manner: This is how China hopes Hong Kong will elect a new chief executive later this month.

Responding to a question on whether Beijing has a preferred candidate, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference spokesman Wang Guoqing said it "looks forward" to the result come March 26.

"We believe that Hong Kong will choose someone who loves the country and Hong Kong, has the trust of the central government, has the ability to govern, and the support of the Hong Kong people," he added.

On the future of the "one country, two systems" formula in the face of "new problems" - an allusion to the still-rippling effects of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests in Hong Kong - Mr Wang said China has consistently adhered to the policy, and has never and will not waver on the issue.

The policy safeguards the country's sovereignty and Hong Kong's long-term prosperity, he added.

Mr Wang was also asked how committed China is to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, given its build-up of artificial islands and installations in the disputed waters.

As "inherent territory" belonging to China, it is the country's sovereign right to build such facilities, he noted.

He rubbished the idea that China poses a threat to freedom of navigation in the waters as "mediocre folk creating trouble", saying that civilian facilities, such as a Chinese lighthouse on the islands, have helped ensure the safety of passing ships.

The spokesman also dismissed a suggestion that China's One Belt, One Road initiative was an attempt at buying influence.

Latest figures showed that Chinese companies have signed US$126 billion (S$178 billion) worth of contracts with 61 countries as part of the initiative.

Last year, China pumped US$14.53 billion of direct investments into 53 involved countries.

"The facts prove that One Belt, One Road is a road that leads to common development and common prosperity," said Mr Wang.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing 'looks forward' to HK election'. Print Edition | Subscribe