World Politics Review
30 June 2015
Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s legislature vetoed an election-reform package that was backed by mainland China but strongly criticized by pro-democracy lawmakers and activists. In an email interview, Michael C. Davis, professor at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, discussed Hong Kong’s democracy movement.
WPR: What do democratic advocates in Hong Kong fear from China’s proposed electoral plan?
Michael C. Davis: China’s democratic reform proposal essentially provides for a vetted election for Hong Kong’s chief executive. Under the Aug. 31, 2014, Beijing decision and the Hong Kong legislative bill to carry it out, a heavily pro-Beijing 1,200-member nominating committee would select by majority vote three candidates to be presented to the voters. Democracy advocates view this as a fake election and fear it is part of a larger pattern of interference from Beijing that will ultimately undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and, with it, the rule of law
The Hong Kong Basic Law, the constitutional document of Hong Kong, makes a number of important promises that aim to preserve the character of Hong Kong as an open, rule-of-law-based society. Most relevant to the current debate, Article 45 states, “The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.” A similar commitment to universal suffrage is made in Article 68 for the Legislative Council. The human rights chapter of the Basic Law further guarantees the right to vote and stand for office, and incorporates the human rights guarantees of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The latter guarantees include the right to a free and fair election, including a free choice of candidates for electoral office. Hong Kong residents take these promises very seriously, as they are viewed as instrumental to preserving Hong Kong’s distinctive character and its basic freedoms. ... Click here to read the full interview.