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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01am
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

I find it hilarious that these CCP talking heads reference the Basic Law like it's some inviolable law of physics or nature. It's a man-made law, dudes. And when constituents feel that a man-made law no longer serves their purposes, constituents can move to change them. Oh, but wait, that's what happens in a democracy...which of course the CCP's PRC and HK are not.
It's further ironic that the CCP is so adamant about not violating Baisc Law, when there are all sorts of other laws that she violates with impunity and regularity.
I think Mr. Hart said it well. The US supports the principle of universal suffrage, and takes no position on how HK people choose to implement it for themselves. Can't ask for more neutrality than that.
Let's see what pathetic whimpery comes down from the Beijing Thought Police again. The US has its opinion and there's no earthly reason why it should not express it as it pleases.
Typical of the United States (a consul general represents the country) to try and interfere in business which is none of theirs. Hong Kong is not part of the United States, nor is it a sovereign country, and this behaviour of him is not acceptable. Mind you to the United States Government interfering in other country's internal affairs is something they love doing. Problem is they always make a mess and leave behind a mess as well.
Seems some people and country try to profile themselve again (after a few bad images of themselve lately) and in the same time stirring some trouble in societies to serve "their interests". That's how it works always for the USA.
Still arrogant, still putting it's nose into matters that's none of their business and they still think that their merely 200 years old country serves as an example for the world.
Ooh tetchy, tetchy. Not intefering. Commenting. Fair enough. Its an opinion.
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?
Awww you poor baby, here's a tissue
I don't think America even knows how to mind it's own business.
Kevin Lau
Indeed, i do not think USA is more democratic than HK. Can Mr Clifford Hart realize the fact that the USA people are not really granted the right of freedom. As we know, even civil communication is under scrutinized by the US government. Definitely, US is a fake democratic conutry. Furthermore, genuine universal suffrage is not implemented in US. All the candidates of US president are only come from two political parties. Moreover, the candidate are not selected by civil nomination. The socalled democratic US pretend itself as the most democratic country in the world.
The US and China deserve each other. They are both full of ****.
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:)
"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?"
The Chinese ambassador can say whatever he/she wants to about the USA. Bring it on.
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