Hong Kong democracy should meet people’s aspirations, says British Foreign Secretary William Hague

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 3:29am

There is no perfect model for universal suffrage; what is important is that Hongkongers have a genuine choice, the British government has said in its six-monthly report to its lawmakers on affairs in the former colony.

In his 21-page report to parliament, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Hong Kong government's five-month consultation on political reform shows a "clear commitment" to introducing universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

"I welcome…the clear commitment in the consultation document that: the electoral procedures should be 'conducive to maintaining an open, fair and honest electoral system," Hague wrote.

But Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said the report - the 34th such document examining the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration - should have taken a firmer line on the city's pursuit of democracy.

"[The report] should have given a basic definition of universal suffrage instead of repeating the local government's lines and the [related] Beijing decisions," said Lau, a lawmaker. "It is a moral and political responsibility for the UK to stand up for the city's universal suffrage. They are different from other countries - they ruled us for a century and a half."

Lau also pointed out a factual error over a Legislative Council lunch with a top Beijing official. The report said liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming hosted a lunch for Legco members. In fact it was Zhang who visited Legco in July.

"How can the report have mixed up such a simple fact?" Lau said.

Zhang's visit was hailed as a breakthrough in relations between lawmakers and the central government.

But plans for a return lunch last month were shelved as many pan-democratic lawmakers refused to step inside the liaison office, a frequent target for protests against Beijing's interference in local affairs.