Chris Patten: Britain is honour bound to speak up for Hong Kong

Chris Patten | 2 September 2014 | Financial Times

The former British colony of Hong Kong has all the attributes of a liberal society except one: its people lack the ability to choose who governs them. The latest political convulsion in the territory has been caused by electoral arrangements proposed by the National People’s Congress, which would prevent democrats and others of whom China might disapprove from seeking election as chief executive in a vote of Hong Kong’s citizens.

Such vetting is more or less what happens in Iran. Sooner or later this plan, or a modification of it, will have to be voted on by Hong Kong’s legislature, and I hope a compromise can be found. The territory’s citizens remain remarkably moderate and responsible. It is not democracy that produces the sort of mass demonstrations we have recently witnessed but its denial.

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