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HK lawmakers hope to negotiate with Beijing on political reform

Hong Kong lawmakers are holding out for hope that there is room to negotiate with Beijing on political reform in the territory. Around 50 legislators met with senior Beijing officials on the sidelines of a political forum in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Thursday (Aug 21).

HONG KONG: Hong Kong lawmakers are holding out for hope that there is room to negotiate with Beijing on political reform in the territory. Around 50 legislators met with senior Beijing officials on the sidelines of a political forum in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Thursday (Aug 21).

China's legislative body will convene in Beijing on Monday to discuss the parameters of universal suffrage for Hong Kong by 2017. Top Chinese official Li Fei, who chairs the Basic Law Committee that oversees Hong Kong's constitution, said that both the central and Hong Kong governments are showing their sincerity over political reform in the territory. There has been a five-month consultation on the matter in the city.

Beijing's top official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, Zhang Dejiang, has also had frank discussions with the pan-democrats, and this is coupled with the seminar in Shenzhen, the Chinese city just across Hong Kong's border.

Mr Li, who is also the deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee - China's de facto legislature - also criticised organisers of Occupy Central. He said their plans to blockade the city's financial district would seriously affect the stability of Hong Kong and its economy. Mr Li also noted that while Hong Kong people focus on their rights, they should also be reminded of their responsibilities.

Legislator Kenneth Leung, from the accountancy sector, expressed some optimism that there appeared to be a possibility of at least some negotiation with Beijing. However, Hong Kong Standing Committee member Rita Fan said she did not see much leeway especially if the pan-democrats are sticking to their guns.

On Wednesday, a group of 26 pan-democratic lawmakers issued a joint-declaration vowing to veto any political reform proposals that fail to meet international standards of democracy. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass reform proposals through Hong Kong's parliament. The pro-establishment camps are shy of just four votes, assuming that all of them vote for reform proposals put forward by Beijing and the Hong Kong government.

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