Hong Kong government tries to improve democratic reform package

Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang said Thursday the government is studying how to improve a modest democratic reform package that trigged a massive street protest last weekend. But Tsang cautioned that the possible changes, to be announced next week, would be limited. "We will focus on studying how to improve the reform plan," Tsang told reporters.

Hong Kong authorities want to double the size of a 800-member committee that choses the city's leader. The government also wants to expand the 60-member legislature, which is half elected, half picked by interest groups. The government hopes lawmakers will approve the proposal on Dec. 21.

But many Hong Kongers want full democratization. Locals turned out in the tens of thousands Sunday to demand quicker progress. However, Tsang said Thursday any changes to the existing proposal will be modest. "Everyone understands we don't have a lot of leeway," he said.

A former British colony returned to China in 1997, Hong Kong hasn't enjoyed full-fledged democracy under either ruler. After Sunday's protest, rumors surfaced that Beijing will announce a date when direct elections for all political offices in Hong Kong will be implemented, but China denied them. The territory's constitution only promises full democracy as an eventual goal. Tsang said giving a time frame for democracy without proper discussion in the community isn't sound practice. If a target date is set abruptly, "a lot of people will question whether you have supporting data and reasoning," he said, reports the AP. N.U.

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