EU "disappointed" at China's delaying democracy in Hong Kong

( dpa )- The European Union said Friday it was "disappointed" at China's refusal to allow full democracy in Hong Kong in 2012.

The statement, issued Thursday evening in Brussels and early Friday Hong Kong time, said the ruling went against the wishes of "the majority of Hong Kong's people."

China ruled last month that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage from 2017 but not for scheduled elections in 2012 when a chief executive and legislature will be chosen for the next five years.

Repeated opinion polls show that people in the former British colony want full democracy as soon as possible but China ruled that Hong Kong would not be ready for universal suffrage in 2012.

In its statement, the EU presidency said early progress towards universal suffrage in Hong Kong was "in the best interests of both Hong Kong and China."

"We are therefore disappointed that the possibility of universal suffrage for 2012 elections has been ruled out, as ... the majority of Hong Kong's people were clearly in favour of this," the statement said.

Hong Kong people currently have no say in choosing their chief executive, who is selected by an 800-member, largely pro-China election committee. Half the city's 60 legislators are directly elected.

Hong Kong was a British colony for 156 years before reverting to Chinese sovereignty under a "one country, two systems" arrangement in 1997.

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