The central government's representative to Hong Kong said Tuesday that there is no doubt that Beijing is dedicated to achieving universal suffrage in the city, but hinted there may possibly be a candidate screening process.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central People's Government in Hong Kong, made the remarks during a lunch meeting with Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) members from all political backgrounds.
It was the first time the top official from the liaison office had lunch with the entire LegCo since 1997.
Zhang was quoted by Xinhua as saying that "I am willing to put effort into the carrying out of universal suffrage together with everyone."
Zhang urged the city to strictly abide by the "one country, two systems" principle, and made a metaphor hinting that the candidates for the city's top office should be screened, while replying to the city's legislator's inquiries.
"Without the sieve, how can we pick up the good seeds from the bad ones? So we can't deny its function," he said, according to Now.com.
Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching, who attended Tuesday's lunch, told the Global Times that it was good to meet with the top official from the liaison office directly.
However, she expressed disagreement about Zhang's remark regarding the screening of candidates, noting it is confusing as she said it might screen out those who do not follow the principle: "Love China, love Hong Kong."
Hong Kong residents will be able to elect their chief executive in 2017 and the full legislature by 2020, according to a 2007 decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
To press for universal suffrage, activists are organizing an Occupy Central movement, which plans to shut down the city's financial district on July 1, 2014, if the central government fails to deliver a firm proposal for 2017.
Zhang opposed the protest proposal, adding that it was violating the law of Hong Kong and doing harm to young people, Xinhua reported.