HONG KONG — Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong has rejected letting the public nominate candidates to run for leader, in the strongest sign yet from China that it won’t allow the former British colony to freely choose its next leader.
Zhang Xiaoming said in an open letter that a provision in the city’s mini-constitution requires candidates to be chosen by a ‘‘broadly representative nominating committee.’’
‘‘There is no other option,’’ Zhang said in the letter, written in response to a lawmaker’s proposal.
Since China regained control of Hong Kong in 1997, the city’s chief executive has been chosen by an elite panel of mainly pro-Beijing tycoons and business group representatives.
Zhang’s letter was dated Aug. 30 and posted Thursday.