Public discontent in Hong Kong is at its highest for years over perceived interference by Beijing, with the election method for the chief executive a touchstone issue. "The principle that the Chief Executive has to be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong must be upheld," said the text of the decision, released by the official news agency Xinhua.
Hong Kong's leader must be loyal to China's ruling Communist Party as well as the country and the city, he added. "The Hong Kong leader must be a person who loves the country and the Party.
The standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's rubber-stamp parliament, decided that the city's next chief executive will be elected by popular vote in 2017, but candidates must each be backed by more than half the members of a "broadly representative nominating committee".
A pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker broke down on live television after the NPC announcement, saying there was "no way out for Hong Kong". "This is the darkest and most painful day for Hong Kong's democracy movement," said Ronny Tong of the Civic Party, sobbing on local broadcaster Cable TV.
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement, which allows residents civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including free speech and the right to protest.
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