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

17 tweets in response to Liu Xiaoming’s attack on Chris Patten for ‘rankest hypocrisy’

Liu Xiaoming’s attack in the Telegraph.

Hong Kong has not, as Lord Patten appears to believe, been bequeathed democracy by Britain. For more than a century and a half, Britain had total responsibility for the territory – and did nothing to encourage or produce democracy. It is therefore the rankest hypocrisy of people such as Lord Patten to criticise China for any perceived failings to introduce democracy.
— Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK

1. Since Liu Xiaoming is so interested in history & ‘rankest hypocrisy’, we’ll take up the matter ourselves in the following tweets.

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U.K. Accepting Hong Kong Election Limits ‘Insult,’ Chan Says

Ting Shi and Jasmine Wang | 5 Sept 2014 | Bloomberg

The U.K. government’s acceptance of China’s plan for limiting free elections in its former colony of Hong Kong is a “great insult,” said the city’s former chief secretary.

Anson Chan:

“What’s happening in Hong Kong and the way Beijing is treating Hong Kong are inconvenient truths that the British government would rather ignore.”

Martin Lee: 

“The British government policy in Hong Kong can be summarized in three words: More China trade.”

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Open Petition to UK Government: Clarify Your Stance over Hong Kong’s Democratic Future

Open petition on Change.org

In response to the comments made by The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Sep 4, 2014

1) The Chinese governemnt’s proposed model to pre-screen Hong Kong Chief Executive (CE) candidates before Hong Kong citizens are allowed to vote does NOT meet international standards on universal suffrage, in particular Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes the right to run and be elected without unreasonable restrictions, and to which Hong Kong is a party under Article 39 of the Basic Law;

2) The election method proposed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) does NOT give Hong Kong people a “genuine choice,” since candidates must be approved by at least 50% of a nominating committee dominated Beijing loyalists;

3) In light of the current crisis, the FCO’s undefined “welcoming”, mere “recognition” and indecisive “hope” are NOT conducive to producing meaningful progress toward democracy in Hong Kong and may eventually be interpreted by Beijing as a green light to do as it wishes.

The people of Hong Kong have consistently striven for genuine universal suffrage through different ways over the years. Given the pledge in the Basic Law that China would eventually allow Hong Kong to elect its CE through universal suffrage, and that China has promised to do so in 2017, as a party to the Joint Declaration, Prime Minister David Cameron and the British Government owe a duty to the people of Hong Kong and the international community to monitor and censure China for reneging on this all-important promise now.

British Response to Election Limits Upsets Activists in Hong Kong

Alan Wong | 5 Sept 2014 | New York Times

HONG KONG — For months, democracy advocates in Hong Kong have called for an open election for the city’s leader and for international pressure to be exerted on Beijing to not interfere with Hong Kong’s autonomy.

That effort suffered another blow on Thursday when the British government said that it welcomed an act of China’s legislature that set strict limits on how Hong Kong is allowed to select its next leader, even while it acknowledged that the “detailed terms” of Beijing’s decision would “disappoint those who are arguing for a more open nomination process.”

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UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s “great insult” to Hong Kong

4 Sept 2014 | Original

Anson Chan, Hong Kong’s “iron lady,” says FCO’s comments are “a great insult.” 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has responded to China’s plans for electoral reform in Hong Kong.

An FCO spokesperson said:

  • We welcome the confirmation that China’s objective is for the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive through universal suffrage.
  • The UK’s position has always been that the detail of the constitutional package is for the Governments of Hong Kong and China and the people of Hong Kong to decide in line with the Basic Law.
  • While we recognise that there is no perfect model, the important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice and a real stake in the outcome. We recognise that the detailed terms that the National People’s Congress has set for the 2017 election will disappoint those who are arguing for a more open nomination process.
  • We hope that the next period of consultation will produce arrangements which allow a meaningful advance for democracy in Hong Kong, and we encourage all parties to engage constructively in discussion to that end.

Hon Sir Richard Ottaway MP: We plan to continue with our inquiry

3 Sept 2014 | Foreign Affairs Committee

The Committee also published letters from the Chinese government and Hong Kong Trade Office threatening the UK to refrain from “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

Hon Sir Richard Ottaway MP, Chairman of the Committee:

“I want to be quite clear that we are not seeking to interfere in China’s internal affairs. What we are investigating is the FCO’s ongoing assessment of the implementation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, under which sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred to China. That is part of our role in oversight of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and it is an entirely legitimate interest of the Committee. We will also consider other aspects of how the FCO handles the relationship between the UK and Hong Kong, such as business and cultural ties.

We plan to continue with our inquiry, and I very much hope that we can find a way, through discussion with the Chinese authorities, for China to make a contribution to our understanding of how the principles of the Joint Declaration are being put into practice.”

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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Beijing diplomat warns UK consul not to ‘meddle’ in Hong Kong politics

Ng Kang-chung | 2 June 2014 | South China Morning Post

The top British envoy in Hong Kong has hit back at Beijing’s warning that London should stay out of Hong Kong’s politics, saying Britain has “a wide range of interests” in the city as a signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

British Consul General Caroline Wilson also stressed the importance of universal suffrage being on the basis of “a genuine choice”.

Wilson was responding after China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, Song Zhe, issued a statement over the weekend, asking Britain not to poke its nose into Hong Kong’s constitutional reforms.

He said the reforms were Hong Kong’s internal affair and Beijing was firmly against any meddling by “outside forces”.

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Hugo Swire: People must have a genuine choice in the 2017 chief executive election

Hugo Swire | 14 September 2013 | South China Morning Post

Hugo Swire says the transition to universal suffrage can ensure Hong Kong’s stability, and it is vital that people have a genuine choice in 2017.

Hugo Swire is UK Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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