China's legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader.

The legislature's standing committee announced Sunday that all candidates must receive more than half of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters.

The decision promises to ignite tensions in the Asian financial hub, which returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Democracy activists in Hong Kong have demanded that Chinese leaders let voters choose their chief executive from an open list of candidates. They have threatened to shut down the city's financial district with protests if Beijing doesn't honor democracy pledges they say China made during the 1997 handover.

Beijing has warned activists against disruptive protests and insisted it has the right to determine how Hong Kong's government is run.