Hong Kong’s top official has offered a controversial defense of Beijing’s plan for elections in the financial capital, warning that a free vote would give the city’s poorest residents too much power.
The remarks by Chief Executive C.Y. Leung came in his first interview with foreign media since protests erupted late last month, led by student groups demanding the right to vote for any candidate of their choosing — not only those approved by Beijing.
Leung, speaking at his opulent colonial-era official residence, said Monday that those demands were unreasonable.
“If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month,” Leung said, according to reports from invited publications.
“Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies,” he continued.
Leung’s comments are likely to strike a chord with the pro-democracy protesters, who often list Hong Kong’s massive wealth gap and out-of-control home prices as some of their top grievances.