Top Beijing official Wang Guangya has said it is reasonable for the central government to care about Hong Kong’s chief executive election.

Wang, the director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, told reporters in Beijing after a National People’s Congress meeting that the election and the upcoming 20th anniversary of the handover are important events.

“The chief executive election is a matter related to the central government, it is reasonable and understandable for the central government to care about the election – it is also the duty of the central government,” he said.

Wang Guangya
Wang Guangya. Photo: i-cable screenshot.

Beijing has been accused of meddling in the election. China’s third-most senior state leader Zhang Dejiang visited Shenzhen in February and reportedly said candidate Carrie Lam was the only leadership contender supported by Beijing.

The China Liaison Office, Beijing’s official organ in Hong Kong, was also also accused of pressuring electors to support Lam.

Wang repeated the central government’s four criteria for the next chief executive that he previously mentioned: “love the country and love Hong Kong,” be trusted by the central government, be capable of governance, and be supported by the Hong Kong people.

National People's Congress npc beijing great hall
Photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

“These criteria have always been there, they were not just created today,” he said.

Wang also said the central government hoped the election can be “conducted in a smooth manner in accordance with laws and regulations” so that a chief executive fitting with the central government can be chosen.

Carrie Lam Election Rally
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the National People’s Congress Law Committee Qiao Xiaoyang said the central government’s power to appoint the chief executive is substantial. He said it meant that the central government can choose to appoint the winning candidate or not, reported RTHK.

Asked if Beijing would only appoint Carrie Lam, or whether it would not appoint candidate John Tsang if he is elected, Qiao said the standard was not about a specific person but the four criteria.

He said all four criteria were important.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.