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The Basic Law was drafted as part of the Sino-British Joint Declaration covering Hong Kong after its handover to China on July 1, 1997. The joint declaration stated that Hong Kong would be governed under the principle of ‘one country-two systems’ and would continue to enjoy its capitalist system and individual freedoms for 50 years after the handover.

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Beijing to Britain: Stop interfering with Hong Kong's internal affairs

Central government joins CY and Carrie Lam in expressing 'staunch opposition' to minister's offer to help city in fight for universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, 3:16pm

Beijing fired a volley of rebuttals at a British minister yesterday, saying no foreign government or official should meddle in Hong Kong's affairs.

The central leadership slammed British foreign office minister Hugo Swire for his remarks - published in the South China Morning Post at the weekend - that it was important for local voters to have genuine choice on the road to democratisation.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, its office in Hong Kong and English-language state newspaper Global Times all rounded on Swire on the one day, soundly rebuffing London's offer of support for a "smooth resolution" to the quest for universal suffrage.

Beijing's vigorous reaction added to the double dose of rebuffs delivered by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor over the weekend.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed "strong displeasure" and "staunch opposition" during a regular media briefing in Beijing.

"The British foreign minister published an article in [Hong Kong] media, publicly making irresponsible remarks," Hong said. "The Chinese government is strongly displeased and staunchly opposed to it."

In the opinion piece published on Saturday, Swire, a minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote that Britain "stands ready to support" its former colony as it "takes its commitment under the Sino-British Joint Declaration very seriously" in protecting the rights of Hongkongers.

Hong also pointed to colonial history to reject Swire's words. "Hong Kong had been under chronic colonial rule. After the handover, the Basic Law has sufficiently protected the basic rights and freedom of Hongkongers," he said. "We urge Britain to immediately stop any form of interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs."

Hong's words echoed an online statement issued by the ministry's Hong Kong office earlier yesterday.

"Regarding the question of Hong Kong's constitutional development, no foreign government or official should meddle in it or make presumptuous comments, not to mention interfere with [it]," the statement said. "We do not need any so-called 'support' from foreign countries.

"We hope the relevant country will be cautious about its speech regarding Hong Kong's constitutional development, and not damage the city's prosperity and stability."

The Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with the People's Daily, called London's act "unwise" in a front page article.

Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, an international relations scholar at Baptist University, said Beijing had "overreacted".

"According to international experience, the best Britain can do is to nudge," said Chan, also a Civic Party legislator. "A more common approach is to speak on the issue or to discuss the subject on international platforms."

Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, a member of the Basic Law Committee under the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said London probably did not understand the Chinese government's way of thinking. "They might have talked about assistance out of goodwill, but the move backfired," he said.



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This article is now closed to comments

Perhaps CY & Co should get their act together and let us all know what their plans are instead of all this b-s about being 'staunchly displeased.' When will the consultation start? What does Beijing propose? What is their interpretation of universal suffrage?

Mr Swire's stated it is important the people of Hong Kong have a genuine electoral choice. Do CY & Co think differently? If not, then why not welcome the comment? It is much more disarming to say 'yes, yes, we know that, obviously, duh, thanks' than to draw this much attention by whining about how hurt your feelings are.

Above all, Mr Swire's op-ed shows that there is a vacuum. A huge void left by CY & Co's refusal to say meaningful things on all of the above. That is an enormous policy mistake and it is no surprise that Mr Swire used this open flank to take a little stab at it.

The subsequent overreaction by CY & Co is pathetic, and continues to distract from the real issue: the fact that he refuses to come clean on how he and his puppet masters envision the 2017 electoral process.
Beijing doesn't like outsiders meddling in its internal affairs so why do they feel free to meddle in our (Hong Kong's) internal affairs? Hong Kong is confronted with the task of establishing universal suffrage to elect the Chief Executive in 2017 and beyond; so what's wrong with getting advice from a country experienced in democracy? We know full well that Beijing, a place opposed to democracy is putting forth effort to influence change in Hong Kong as well as how the Chief Executive will be elected in 2017 and beyond. They are even trying to select their own candidate. I don't believe any foreign government has chosen an ideal candidates for the Hong Kong 2017 Chief Executive election.
Britain has a right to comment under the Joint Declaration which is a contract between China and Britain whose terms persist till 2047. It is neither an "interference" nor is it something from just any third party foreign government.
The Government in Beijing and the local leaders in Hong Kong need to understand that when countries in Western Europe or America look at them they don't, as Beijing would like its citizens to think, see a chance to attack China, they see a chance to attack the Communists. For almost 50 years after World War II Britain and her allies faced down the Russian communists. Can anyone honestly say that it is right for a Government to restrict personal movement, lock-up in prison anyone who speaks against it, dictate personal beliefs, etc?
For those who try to defend Beijing by saying that Communism doesn't really mean Communist, well it never did. In both the old Soviet Union and in the PRC being a Communist means being a member of the ruling class. At the outset in 1917 and 1949 there were people in both countries who believed in some type of Marxist ideology but that is in the distant past. Being a Communist in the eyes of the majority of the world's population does not mean striving for equality but rather striving for control of the people's thinking and for the control of their everyday life.
Sorry to be long winded by I expect too many of the comments to waffle on about colonialism, opium war, and all the old nuggets spewed out by Communist sympathizers who don't even respect the intelligence of the people.
It is my daughters birthday today. She is 3. She is Chinese and holds an SAR passport. I hope she can avoid the Communist nightmare.
Is it your belief that Beijing isn't offering unasked for, unneeded and unwanted provocative “support"?
I do wish you would stop quoting me - it was bmr that wrote just a day or two ago about the Oxbridge ruling class. We know the failings of democracy but do you know the failings of the Communist Parties in the world? The problem with the Communist Party is that they have been responsible for high profile mass murders through misgovernment and attempts to hold on to power - The Great Leap Forward, The Cultural Revolution, Tianamen Square.
This is what we can see. What can't we see?
To draw a line in the sand - you support the Communist Party. I don't. The thing is this, you seem to want some dialogue - some democratic discussion - but are not prepared to go further. What democracy has shown us is that no political party can stay popular and win election to govern for 60 years. The people within a country when they are dissatisfied will seek change. Under the current system there is no choice for change. The people are never heard unless it suits the ruling class. Chinese people are that - you get it? They are people with feelings, intelligence and a desire for change. But they will never really be heard.
If the British are so keen to support "smooth solution" to seek Hong Kong's universal suffrage. Why did Great Britain never make Hong Kong a democracy? Why didn’t it do this in the 1960s or 1970s or even 1980s? Why did it continue appointing bland British bureaucrats, who had never lived there and knew nothing about the place, to run Hong Kong ? It seems that this failure has something to with the continuing British nostalgia of empire.
People in Hong Kong now can vote in free and fair elections, they can protest and assembly under Chinese rule. Yet, ironically, Hong Kong today is more democratic than it was during the vast majority (perhaps the totality) of its time under British rule.
If Britain had had the option of ruling Hong Kong as long as it pleased. It is unlikely to be and Hong Kongese had never asked for the freedom and democracy under Britain ruled. It is just like a herd of fattened lambs, the people of Hong Kong meekly accepted whatever British rulers’ decisions.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 09/17/13 美國
It's "disinformation". How about the Chinese "Communist" super capitalists?
Comment almost wholly unintelligible.
Right, chaps, already enough "meddling in your affairs" through those poisonous Western thoughts brought to HK and China by the kids studying in the UK - see today's SCMP. What an absurd theatre!



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