Britain soft on China over Hong Kong crisis, says Chris Patten

Territory’s last British governor says Beijing is being allowed to ‘spit in the face’ of handover pact because of trade fears

The Guardian, Wednesday 5 November

Britain is not putting enough pressure on China to stick to its side of an agreement on the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty because it is worried about damaging trade links, the former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten has said.

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Patten criticises UK’s ‘keep shtoom’ policy on Hong Kong

BBC 4 November 2014

Lord Patten has said the UK should be doing more to support democracy in Hong Kong, suggesting its policy of “keeping shtoom” was counter-productive.

The last British governor of Hong Kong suggested the UK was reluctant to raise difficult issues with Beijing because of fears of losing trade opportunities.

Ministers should speak out publicly rather than talk “behind their hands”. Continue reading

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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Hong Kong Ex-Governor: To Resist Elections Is ‘Spitting in The Wind’

Natasha Brereton-Fukui | 11 November 2013 | Wall Street Journal

Any erosion of Hong Kong’s economic independence could not only threaten its desirability as an international financial center but hurt China as well, the last governor of the former British colony said in an interview, adding it was inevitable that the authorities would have to give residents greater sway over how the territory is run.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal during a trip to Singapore, Chris Patten – who governed Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997 – said the core challenge for Hong Kong had always been to combine its openness with the Chinese success story.

“The only thing [Hong Kong] doesn’t have is the right to elect its own government, and sooner or later it will have, because you can’t give people control over all the economic and social decisions in their lives but not allow them to determine who collects their rubbish or how their children should be educated or how their health service should be run,” Lord Patten said. “Anybody who tries to resist that is, I think, spitting in the wind.”

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Holding Out in Hong Kong

Ian Buruma | 6 December 1997 | ChinaFile

Chinese values do not adequately explain the peculiar alliance between mainland Communists and the local tycoons, who still want Hong Kong to be run as a profitable colony, albeit under a different master. Opportunism is part of it, to be sure. Most Hong Kong tycoons have been cultivating guanxi with the Communist patrons for years. …Tycoons and Marxist commissars are bound by more than opportunism, however. They share a deep conviction that everything can be reduced to economics, and that liberal politics is a hindrance, at best. As the distinguished lawyer Gladys Li put it to me: “China’s view of Hong Kong is business, business, business.”

The formula for the future status of Hong Kong, “One Country, Two Systems,” has a history of deceit. The phrase was first used in public by Deng Xiaoping in 1984. But the concept is very close to the one applied to the Autonomous Region of Tibet in 1951. Tibet was to be kept separate from China, to allow “feudal” Tibet to catch up with communism. Hong Kong must remain separate from China for fifty years to allow Communist China to catch up with…capitalism? In both cases, the “existing political system” would (will) not be altered. We know what happened in Tibet. We don’t yet know what will happen in Hong Kong. But one issue involving deliberate deceit has yet to be openly discussed: the role of the Chinese Communist Party. What will the New China News Agency be doing in Hong Kong after June 30? Surely not just reporting the news. Will senior people in the Hong Kong government declare their membership in the Communist Party? Which system would they be serving? Who will be accountable to whom?

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