Hong Kong Watch

Lau Kong-wah, Hong Kong’s under secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, speaks during a news conference at Hong Kong University in Hong Kong on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Bloomberg News

Hong Kong just finished weeks of protests by students and others pressing for more say in how the Chinese city elects its top leader. Now, the question is what Hong Kong officials will formally say about that turmoil to their bosses in Beijing.

City officials have pledged to submit a report to the China’s State Council, or Cabinet, explaining the events that took place in Hong Kong in the last few months. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Lau Kong-wah, Hong Kong’s undersecretary for mainland and constitutional affairs, said the report is now in its final stages.

“We have known from the beginning that constitutional reform is a tough issue, ” said Mr. Lau. “And after the events of the last two months, we can see that it has become even more difficult.”

Government officials offered in October to submit the report as a minor concession to the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the two main student protest groups. They made the offer during televised talks with representatives of the student group, known as HKFS.

HKFS, which represents Hong Kong university students, says an earlier report from Hong Kong city officials to Beijing on the city’s gradual move to democracy underplayed the public sentiment to constitutional reform and dealt the effort a setback.

In August, shortly after that report was formally sent to Beijing, Chinese officials said candidates running in the race for Hong Kong’s top leader in 2017 first must be vetted and approved by Chinese officials. The announcement drew tens of thousands into the streets of Hong Kong, with three major downtown areas occupied by protestors since Sep. 28, when police fired 87 rounds of tear gas. The last and smallest of these sites, Causeway Bay, was cleared in mid-December. Sunday marked the three-month anniversary of the beginning of what came to be known as the Umbrella Movement.

The second round of public consultation on electoral reform in Hong Kong is also due to begin in early January, a person with knowledge of the matter has said. The consultation will focus on the nominating process of candidates running for chief executive, said the person, without elaborating on the specifics, and the process will last for about two months.

Hong Kong officials have reiterated that Beijing’s stance on approving candidates cannot be revoked. However, Hong Kong officials have said that there is some room for maneuver on the composition of the committee that nominates the candidates.

No large-scale protests have taken place in Hong Kong since the Occupy encampments were cleared, though larger crowds did gather in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay over the Christmas holiday, resulting in a few dozen arrests and minor clashes with police.

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