• Thu
  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:53am
NewsHong Kong

US diplomat’s comments on Hong Kong politics ‘upset’ Beijing, says report

Report says Hart's pan-democrat poll remark and meetings with politicians led to warning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 7:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 August, 2013, 3:26pm


  • Yes: 66%
  • No: 34%
31 Aug 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 327

The new US consul general in Hong Kong was warned to steer clear of the city's political debate because Beijing was "extremely upset" by his remark that pan-democrats should be allowed to run for chief executive, a state-run newspaper says.

The Global Times ran a commentary on its website yesterday quoting "a source close to the central government" as saying Beijing was also upset about Clifford Hart's frequent meetings with local politicians.

A spokesman for the US consulate declined to confirm yesterday whether Hart had ever made a suggestion about pan-democrats' participation in the 2017 election.

But he said Hart's meetings with government, business and political leaders "are the standard practice of diplomatic representatives of nations around the world … and they are important for building relationships, exchanging views, and opening lines of communication".

The commentary came three days after Song Zhe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' commissioner in Hong Kong, met Hart and told him that US personnel in Hong Kong should "refuse to do anything that would hurt Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and the overall interests of China-US relations".

This was seen as a warning after New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Hart had told her "he hoped that people from different backgrounds can run for the election in 2017" - echoing pan-democrats' call for a fair nomination system.

Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu agreed that Hart's veiled support for the pan-democrats could have touched nerves in Beijing.

He said Beijing might think that by showing its authority, it could "scare [Hart] off".

"But what the US has been doing is really common in international relations - to stand on moral high ground and call for democracy as a universal value," he said. "So instead of hitting back, it would be wiser for Beijing to engage with the moderate democrats, and make friends with them instead of pushing them towards the US."

Hart has met two of the three biggest pan-democratic parties - the Democratic Party and Labour Party. The pro-establishment Liberal Party and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong are expected to meet him next month.

Lau said Beijing might also be concerned about the US consulate's high-profile Facebook page.

Last Saturday, Hart's office uploaded a picture of Martin Luther King with the question "what is your dream?" The post drew more than 650 comments in four days, including 450 that said "independence of Hong Kong".



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

There is an old Chinese saying: the one who feeds you milk is your mother. Has the American ever fed and still feeding some of those boys who yell for US intervention. Have you boys been over simplistic? Do you know besides democratic system US's good economy hence good general standard of living is supported by high resource per capita and the offensive US military mights, which helps to 'tap' the cheap resource from the countries like China, India and other poor countries. Please Think! If you want to enjoy higher standard of living in all ways, migrate to the US.
If HK citizens can choose between being managed by US or PRC mainland. Most people will support US style of government.
"Most people will support US style of government."
Definitely. HKers were never asked whether or not they wanted to join Communist Mainland. If given the choice back in the 1980s, Hong Kong would have been a Democracy already in 1997.
The US being the usual busybody minding other people's affairs and eavesdropping into everybody's emails?
Harold Cameron
The U.S.A. never has & never will respect any country which isn't 100% compliant with their view on every subject. Yesterday's comments re Syria only go to emphasise this point. They (U.S.A.) aren't even prepared to respect the views of the democratically elected government of the United Kingdom.
lol hehe :)
The US shouldn't meddle in HK's affair but make no mistake, the Chinese government shouldn't think it has the necessary knowledge or experience to advise anyone how to govern or manage a free society like HK. The less they meddle in HK the better. At a personal level, I wouldn't want their views on how to live life outside of China. If I need any advice, I will get it from those who have lots of international experience.
At the core of HK's problems is the failure of the government to address HK people's basic needs. If CY Leung can somehow build 200000 flats for the middle and lower income earners very quickly, he will be able to shut all protesters up. The thing is, as a government, he and his predecessors could not even take care of citizens' basic needs. Not sure whether he has no political will or is afraid of the property tycoons and bankers or worried about the banking system collapsing when property prices return to earth levels. To tell HK people that there is very little one can do but to pay HK$6-10K psf, at a minimum, if one wants to own a unit is pure nonsense. We are not all bankers or doctors. The protests are necessary to send a message not only to CY but to Central too that this place is not well managed. In short, if these leaders are afraid of this and that, why don't they just leave and let those who have the marbles to LEAD. They have not and are not doing a good job. When compared to Singapore, the HK government is probably a D minus.
Beijing control-freaks are terrified of their people expressing free opinions. An electoral system which forbids people from standing as candidates because of their views is not universal suffrage.
Don't know why Beijing is upset, most HKongers are not going to vote for the pan democrats anyway, they are a bunch of immature losers/lunatics.
It is a matter of the United States trying to create problems in Hong Kong, and to interfere in the internal affairs of China, of which Hong Kong is a part of. We must not forget that due to the encouragement of the United States, we have Japan stealing our land and even the Philippines trying to steal land belonging to China. The United States has caused enough problems as it is in Asia.




SCMP.com Account