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Hong Kong lawmakers meet China's point man in democracy push

Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong met with Beijing's top man in the city on Friday (Aug 15) in a bid to sway the central government over political reforms in the territory.

HONG KONG: Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong met with Beijing's top man in the city on Friday (Aug 15) in a bid to sway the central government over political reforms in the territory.

The meeting is the first of four and comes ahead of a National People's Congress Standing Committee decision on how to select candidates for the next chief executive elections in 2017. Beijing had promised the city universal suffrage by that time.

No consensus has yet been reached, leaving the community to wait anxiously for the National People's Congress decision later this month. When that decision is made, the process of political reform will move on to the next stage.

Leaders from the Democratic Party are the first in the pro-democracy camp to meet with Mr Zhang Xiaoming, head of China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong and Beijing's point man in the city. They called on him hoping the central government would not impose specific conditions in its ruling on Hong Kong's political reform and leaving the door to negotiations open. They also handed the director an alternative report on political reform in the territory to more accurately reflect public opinion.

They say Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration had deliberately played down the outcome of Occupy Central's unofficial referendum in June, where the majority of almost 800,000 voters endorsed proposals to allow for civic nomination.

However, political analysts are not expecting much from the talks, as Beijing has reportedly already made up its mind. Meantime, Mr Leung upped the ante and signed an anti-Occupy Central petition, making him the highest ranking government official to do so.

Organisers have so far collected 1.2 million signatures, opposing plans by democracy activists to blockade Central to push for genuine democracy. "I am opposed to using illegal means. Hong Kong is a law abiding society, and we have enough avenues for views to be expressed," said Mr Leung.

The debate on political reform has also landed the president of the Law Society in hot water. The Law Society, which represents some 8,000 solicitors in Hong Kong, passed a no confidence motion against its president Ambrose Lam.

Mr Lam has been widely criticised by Society members for his comments backing Beijing's White Paper issued in June. In it, the document by China's State Council asserts the central government's authority over Hong Kong and classifies judges as administrators.

Mr Lam said he respects the outcome, but would not comment on whether or not he would step down. The vote was non-binding.