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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
HK launches democracy proposals
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang - 5/7/2007
Chief Executive Donald Tsang has pledged more democracy
Hong Kong's government has unveiled a range of proposals on how and when it might arrive at full democracy.

The publication of a long-awaited consultation paper has begun a three-month consultation period on the Chinese territory's political future.

The paper includes the option of universal suffrage in five years' time or at an unspecified date after that.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang hopes to find a consensus on the speed of political change to take to Beijing.

The city's head is currently elected by an 800-member, pro-Beijing electoral committee with no direct public vote.

Half of Hong Kong's 60-seat legislature is elected by the public and half by special interest groups.

Democracy pledges

The possibility is raised that all the people of Hong Kong could vote for a future leader, but choosing only from candidates vetted by Beijing, says the BBC's East Asia editor Chris Xia.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang has pledged to create a more democratic system.

But China's President Hu Jintao has said political development in Hong Kong should be "gradual and orderly", with the emphasis on Beijing's sovereignty over the territory.

On 1 July, Hong Kong celebrated the 10th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule after more than 150 years under the British.

China and Britain promised in 1997 that Hong Kong would become a full democracy, but did not state when that would happen.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong want universal suffrage, the right to elect the chief executive and the ability to directly elect all the members of the territory's legislature.

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