Hong Kong’s chief executive CY Leung broke a long silence today, saying he is happy to talk with student protest leaders next week, but that they may not be happy with his bottom line position. No real democracy is possible in Hong Kong.
But nevertheless the government will restart talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students as early as next week, CY Leung said yesterday.
The announcement came on the 19th day of protests and one day after police officers were videotaped allegedly beating and kicking an Occupy Central protester, Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu.
But question marks remain over whether fresh talks can make any headway in the stalemate between the government and protesters.
Federation general secretary Alex Chow Yong-kang said if and when the federation holds talks, it would raise all the political reforms sought by Hong Kong people, including civil nomination, abolition of Legislative Council of the Basic Law.
Occupy Central with Love and Peace said in a statement: “We urge every occupier not to forget our original intention – that is, to fight for a democratic political system with love and peace.”
Leung warned that Beijing has no intention of changing its insistence that chief executive candidates must be vetted by a loyalist Nominating Committee before a one man, one vote election in 2017 – a core demand of protesters.
Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who will be Leung’s representative in the talks with students, said she would be happy to have direct communications with the students.
“But I hope you realize when both sides are not entirely certain of the other side’s position on matters, a middle man could be a helpful channel to exchange those views and enhance communication,” she said.
The demonstrators have taken to the streets since Sept. 26 to oppose the Chinese central government’s decision to screen candidates to run in the territory’s first direct elections in 2017. They also want the territory’s unpopular leader who was picked by Beijing, Chief Executive Leung Chan-ying, to resign.
China’s central government is becoming increasingly impatient with the mostly peaceful demonstrations, the biggest challenge to its authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997. There were no signs, however, that Beijing was planning to become directly involved in suppressing them.