When the idea was raised, the UK rejected democracy in Hong Kong. Benny Tai, whose job is presumably to make an airtight legal case for the action, instead observed that international practices don’t demand popular nomination. In fact, the UK doesn’t have direct nomination, as a HKSAR representative pointed out during the student dialogue. The key stipulation is a matter of principle: Do citizens have real choice? Do the candidates represent different needs and backgrounds? The best he could say was that popular nomination would unequivocally meet international standards, not that it was the only way.
Even more problematically, perhaps, the UK opted out of the Article 25 of the Universal Covenant of Civil and Political Rights for universal suffrage and direct elections for Hong Kong during its merrily undemocratic colonial years, and the PRC succeeded to that treatment when it took over in 1997. The OHK legal case rests on the rather frail legal reed that Beijing inadvertently surrendered its reservation by holding legislative elections.
And that is the best that the cream of the Hong Kong legal profession and the NED-whose job it is to twist Beijing’s knickers on these kinds of treaties-has been able to come up with after over a decade of determined lawyering. Read more here..