British plan for Hong Kong did not include universal suffrage, says city's Chief Executive

Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China on June 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Flagbearers lower a Chinese national flag beside a banner set up by pro-democracy protesters outside Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China on June 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

HONG KONG - The British plan for Hong Kong's future leader did not include universal suffrage, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pointed out Tuesday, the China Daily reported, ahead of a crucial vote on a China-backed electoral reform package this week.

Hong Kong's legislature is due to begin debate on the electoral reform package in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, with a vote due by the end of the week, Reuters reported. Pro-democracy protesters are staging evening rallies throughout the week over its unhappiness with China's plans for how the Chinese ruled city's next leader is to be elected in 2017.

Beijing has proposed a direct vote for the 2017 election, but only from among pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates. Democracy activists say they want a genuinely democratic vote.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Leung said the clauses of the Sino-British Joint Declaration called for the city's Chief Executive to be selected either through election or consultation, the China Daily reported.

He said the concept of universal suffrage was first introduced through the Basic Law adding that China's National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) had showed sincere intentions to elect the city's top leader through one-person, one-vote.

Mr Leung's remarks come as opposition lawmakers have vowed to veto the reform package, claiming that it violates the Joint Declaration.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a promise that core personal and commercial freedoms, backed by a British-style legal system, would be protected for 50 years.