Video: Hong Kong Officials Regard Universal Suffrage for 2017 Vote as 'Quantum Leap'

NEW YORK, June 27, 2014 — Asia Society co-chair Ronnie Chan believes history may reveal Hong Kong's current style of government to be “more perfect” than the democracies of the West.

“Nobody says that this is the end of the road,” Chan added, referring to the way Hong Kong elects its top political position, the chief executive. “Nobody says this cannot be improved from here on out.”

There are still nearly three years to go before Hong Kong’s highly anticipated elections for chief executive in 2017, but controversy surrounding the vote has already garnered international attention. It was also the topic of conversation at Asia Society in New York — just days before massive pro-democracy protests roiled Hong Kong — when Chan took to the stage with Johnny Mok, a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, and moderator Tom Nagorski, Asia Society’s executive vice president.

At stake is how candidates for Hong Kong’s chief executive will be decided, and recently, an activist group organized an unofficial referendum on the topic, attracting nearly 800,000 votes and the ire of the Chinese government. Mok, who also serves as Senior Counsel for Hong Kong, came out strongly against the referendum, citing the Hong Kong Bar Association.

“We do not regard having the public nominate the candidates for the chief executive to be constitutional.”

Much can still happen before the elections are held, but both Chan and Mok don't see electoral rules changing anytime soon. Hong Kong voters are “pretty pragmatic,” said Mok. “They would rather move forward, and they want the system to evolve to next stage” of universal suffrage, which is itself a “quantum leap.”

Chan ended with a rallying cry for an alternate economic vision for Hong Kong. “Let us not lose our uniqueness. Let us continue to prove our unique worth to the motherland. And that will be the best way to assure that Hong Kong will be kept to our own ways, our own system.”

Video: Watch the program highlights (5 min., 15 sec.)

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Watch the complete program
Video: The Future of Democracy in Hong Kong