• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 6:24pm
NewsHong Kong

US will keep its nose out of Hong Kong poll, says envoy Clifford Hart

In cautious maiden speech, Clifford Hart vows Washington will not take sides while sticking to its basic stance on need for universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 6:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 4:46am

The top US envoy in Hong Kong said yesterday Washington would not support any political parties or give any prescription on reform when it came to the city's democratic development.

Clifford Hart's cautious approach in his maiden public speech came a month after Foreign Ministry Commissioner Song Zhe warned him to stay out of the city's affairs.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, the US consul general said Washington supported Hong Kong's progress towards genuine universal suffrage, but it had "no prescription".

"The United States will always stand for our core democratic values," Hart said.

He said soon after his arrival on July 30 that he was looking forward to Hongkongers' move towards "genuine democratic suffrage". He has also met various political parties in the past two months.

"The United States does not take a position for or against any particular formulation on how genuine universal suffrage is achieved," Hart said yesterday.

"We will always advocate the fundamental principles that underlie every successful democracy - open dialogue and debate, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and choice among candidates."

Asked about the Occupy Central democracy movement, Hart said the US "does not support" any political groups or movement.

Asked by a chamber member about his reaction to the criticism provoked by his earlier comments, Hart said he would be satisfied if the attention over the past two months could be maintained during the rest of his tenure. "I feel I am received quite warmly. I have no complaints," he said.

Hart refused to talk about the controversy over US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, which his predecessor Stephen Young said had damaged trust between the US and Hong Kong. Hart said he stood by Young's statement.

Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said he hoped the US and Britain would adopt "quiet diplomacy" or it might deepen misunderstandings between Beijing and pan-democrats in Hong Kong.

"I just hope they can help facilitate mutual trust in the political reform process," he said.

Separately, Wang Guangya , director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told the city's political appointees that the debate on constitutional reform must stay rational and stick to the law. Top mainland officials have said the "public nomination" of chief executive candidates would violate the Basic Law.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, who joined Wang and 16 undersecretaries and political assistants at a closed-door meeting in Beijing yesterday, said the government would not make a quick decision.



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This article is now closed to comments

Express your opinion in your own country please!
" i do not think USA is more democratic than HK. "
---pretty hard to reconcile that statement with reality, considering where HK is at presently. Regardless, it is also moot. Mr. Hart says he supports the concept of universal suffrage for HK people, to be applied in the manner that HK people most see fit. The concept he supports does not necessitate any comparison of the relative "democratic-ness" of one state versus another.
I wish people would focus on the message, and not just the messenger...because the latter inevitably devolves into one big ad hominem mess.
hard times !
now the consul general of the US in Hong Kong has publicly pledged not to intervene in our political reforms---the promised universal suffrages in 2017 of our chief executive and the lawmakers in 2020.In his cautious public speech yesterday at the American Chamber at Tai Tam Road, Stanley,Mr.Clifford Hart highly praised our success in practising the 'One Country,two systems' ever since the Handover in 1997.His pledge of 'non-intervention' in our local politics maybe good to our pan-democrats in town since any foreign interventions will be considered by Beking as another type of aggressions by western powers of its sovenreignty of the territory ! Our universal suffrage, a geniune one ,should be achieved through our own efforts-----even by our upcoming 'Occupy Central Campaign' to be staged next July.Yet it is learnt that the Campaign is short of fund by at least HK$ 5 millions which can be raised in town !
These stupid American diplomats coming over here to voice out the USA's "concerns".......he should think more about the embarrassment that Snowden has exposed of the American government and then he should realize he really should "shut up"...........The Americans are on a one way streak and that's downhill..........
You can't compare HK to USA, that's like comparing New York to China.
Huh? What did Mr. Hart say that constitutes "putting (his) nose into matters"?
Yes, all for expressing an opinion if you are not representing a country. Would you say the same if the ambassador of China to the US starts to "express" his view on how the US government should run the US?
I cannot find fault with Hart's comments. In fact, they sound meek in comparison with comments made by his predecessors or other American diplomats who use the 'democracy' card at every opportunity to bash China. Quite rightly, the US should stay out of this and watch developments. Knowing them, they will shout out at the top of their voices once China is seen to be hindering democracy in HK.
Actually, I must say that though the 'Basic Law' is regarded as sacred we should remember that the provisions were enacted 30 years or so ago. This was then and now is now. The drafters could not possibly have predicted the present situation so is it not possible for the PCC or some consultative body on the mainland to revise some of the provisions. We are left guessing what the intention of the drafters were and I really feel this is not right. While nobody should aim at overturning the Basic Law isnt it time for some of the provisions to be revisited? I believe the drafters could not possibly have thought of every minute detail. As long as the people of Hong Kong and the mainland authorities are on agreement wouldnt there be a possibility to tweak some minor bits of the Basic Law?
And in any other matters or countries per se...
They have so much in common, it's uncanny:)



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