• Wed
  • Oct 1, 2014
  • Updated: 7:01pm
NewsHong Kong

Elections in 2017 must provide genuine choice, says British minister

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 7:38am

British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire has added his voice to the current debate on Hong Kong's electoral reform, saying it is important for voters to have a genuine choice.

In an opinion piece published in today's South China Morning Post, the minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says Britain has a big economic stake in seeing Hong Kong remain "prosperous, stable and energetic".

British ministers have commented previously on the introduction of universal suffrage, notably in Britain's half-yearly reports on how the Sino-British Joint Declaration is being implemented. However, Swire's words follow Beijing's recent stern warning to American consul general Clifford Hart to keep out of Hong Kong politics.

Swire, writing ahead of tomorrow's annual International Day of Democracy, says universal suffrage should be jointly decided by the governments of Hong Kong and China and the people of Hong Kong in line with the Basic Law.

"The important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice to enable them to feel they have a real stake in the outcome," the minister, who is a member of the British Conservative Party, writes.

"Britain stands ready to support in any way we can."

Last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' commissioner in Hong Kong, Song Zhe, told Hart in person to stay out of Hong Kong politics. Hart said on his second day of work on July 30 that he was looking forward to Hongkongers' move towards "genuine democratic suffrage".

Song told Hart the development of Hong Kong's political system is its own internal affair and "foreign governments and officials should not interfere".

The ministry could not be reached for comment yesterday.

At the centre of the electoral reform debate is a proposal to let some or all voters nominate chief executive candidates in a process dubbed "civil nomination".

The director of the central government's liaison office, Zhang Xiaoming, said on Thursday civil nomination was against the Basic Law. He referred to a provision that the nomination has to be made "by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures".

Swire says certainty over the city's constitutional future is important to business and investor confidence in "Asia's leading international financial centre".

"The city is home to around 1,000 British businesses, many of which have made Hong Kong their regional hub," he writes.

"Like many others in the international community, the UK therefore has a big economic stake in seeing Hong Kong continue as the prosperous, stable and energetic centre that we see today."



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This article is now closed to comments

Can we also advise Britain what to do with itself? No, why not?
This greatest british GENTLEMAN could help hkers if he could change the BNO into genuine BN.
gimme a break!
Brits never gave hkg any "universal suffrage" in 100 yrs of colonial rule... this is hypocritical bulls...
Would the CCP have allowed Britain to give Universal Suffrage to Hong Kong in the first place?
But they did get the Masters in Beijing to agree to it on the way out. The Beijing sycophants can argue until the cows come home but they agreed to allow HK people to vote. And our government conspires with the masters to make sure that never happens. Thankfully we have enough sycophants sent in from China to bake the deal.
Well said Mr Swire.
Ex Eton, Grenadier Guards, Sotheby’s
I wonder if he stayed in a hotel ?
In any case does Hong Kong need elected free-Toulouse-&-Seattle-trip junketeers as our future Government such as Albert Ho, James To & freebie king Abraham Shek ?
Will they be bussing in the retirees from Shenzhen again to vote or buying votes with free rice handouts, day trips & banquets?
Hong Kong people have short memories of forcing Broomhead out of her job & the reasons for that, only to vote for the same leopard spots & see her invited into EXCO.
Then there is the appalling lack of locally available talent to fill the massively overpaid, under-worked, under-qualified, incompetently brazen Ministerial positions & blinkered back-office chip-on-shoulder policy morons.
Any figurehead can be CE if there is a well-oiled administrative machine purring along. Sadly the wheels have fallen off a long time ago with outdated policies bound to fail, a total self-interest ignorance of when the time is right to resign & a rudderless ship in turbulent waters.
Between 1945 and 1952, the British government considered granting Hong Kong the right to elected self-government, but in1952 the proposal was withdrawn. Why? Pressure from the PRC; dessist or leave.
As I understand the Legco was elected to some degree, hence the pedigrees of many. So it was the CE? Either way, China agreed to universal suffrage or was that a dream?
really?! i did NOT know that.
but then, i did not know Elvis never left the house... LOL




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