• Thu
  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 1:41am
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POLITICS

Biden backs Hong Kong democracy in activist meeting

US vice-president and pan-democrats in White House meeting sure to rile Beijing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2014, 9:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 April, 2014, 9:52am

Two senior pan-democrats told US Vice-President Joe Biden on Friday that Beijing has been "tightening its controls" over Hong Kong and "voiced fear that the communist rulers would only allow handpicked candidates" to run in the 2017 chief executive election.

Anson Chan Fang On-sang, the former chief secretary and the convenor of pro-democracy group Hong Kong 2020, and Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, are halfway through a two-week visit to the United States and Canada.

Their meeting with Biden came a day after they met the Democratic Party leader of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in Washington, where they are believed to have discussed Hong Kong's political development.

The White House said Biden "stopped by for talks" and "underscored [Washington's] long-standing support for democracy in Hong Kong and for the city's high degree of autonomy under the 'one country, two systems' framework".

Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that Chan and Lee were meeting "National Security Council officials" when Biden joined them.

During the 20-minute meeting with the vice-president, Chan and Lee voiced concern over freedom of the press, pointing to the knife attack on former Ming Pao editor-in-chief Kevin Lau Chun-to and charging that Beijing was pressuring advertisers to shun critical media.

A spokeswoman for Chan's office added that the duo also told the vice-president that freedom of speech and assembly were under threat in Hong Kong, yet its citizens remain determined to achieve universal suffrage.

She added that Chan and Lee had "requested" to meet officials and party leaders in the US, but it was unclear whether the duo had asked for a meeting with Biden.

A government spokeswoman responded that the administration disagrees with the notion that press freedom and other core values of Hong Kong were under threat, or the idea that the "one country, two systems" principle was being weakened.

Beijing has yet to respond to the meeting in Washington.

On Friday, Pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po ran a one-page article featuring seven Beijing loyalists who condemned the duo for being naïve, inviting external interference and "betraying" Hong Kong with their trip.

It criticised the pair for "pretending" to represent Hong Kong, adding that they should not encourage external interference in China's internal politics.

Chan and Lee headed to Canada yesterday and are expected to deliver speeches and meet former Hongkongers in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

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This article is now closed to comments

johnwe
Have Martin Lee and Chang On Fang no shame? Crawling to Washington to seek succor or whatever? They are not elected representatives and have no right to speak for us. What does Washington have to do with the way this place is governed? Why should Hong Kong people accept American paternalism or lispservice to democracy any more than the reality of a healthy and comfortable and working system being part of China?
This time Obama doesn't even bother. Biden doesn't even schedule a meeting but can only 'drop by' and give all of 20 minutes !!! Big deal reported in great detail like mana from heaven.
It was humiliating and meant to send the message that they have little time for our petty problems. Martin and ms Chan had their time and failed. Now they are past 'Use By' dates. More of the same gets short shrift that people desperate to ge the headlines deserve.Washington cant possibly believe their views are relevant to Beijing.
Why on earth do they think meeting Nancy Pelosi (Bah!) and Biden would have any relevance - to whom? Hongkongers do not look to Washington for advice or a model; they think listening to Beijing about the way forward is 100% more likely to be bear fruit. No pictures or reports will impress us or frighten Beijing to give in to the agitators in Hong Kong who keep shouting 'Rule of Law' but cannot understand the Basic Law. I am sure they do, but radicalism is obsessive and makes you blind and irrational and moves you to the lunatic fringe.
XYZ
Ms. Chan and Mr. Lee would have no need to seek supportive audiences overseas if the Chinese Communist Party accorded them and all Chinese people under the sway of the Party the basic human right to be treated with equality, dignity and respect.
Hollander323
I like the photograph posted, with Martin Lee and Anson Chan paying pilgrimage to Pope Joe Biden in the White House in the US.
mercedes2233
Do you mean 'homage' perhaps?
Shakespeare said '...one can smile and smile and be a villain'. This photo reminds me of that quote.
allan94
1. HK doesnt deserve universal suffrage. why does hk need it now after 150 years of not complaining when the whites ruled it??
2. the fact of the matter is that most hk citizens are not loyal to the country. how many will send their sons to fight if there is a war? probably zero. just look at how many people have foreign passports, and they use it at any signs of trouble,eg 1997, SARS, etc. So why should they have a right to democracy?
3. HK is basically a way station for many people, even those who are born here.....they make their money here and plan to exit when there is any trouble. HK is like your father's second wife or mistress.....very nice and useful but no legitimacy.
4. what is the point of all this patriotic talk when no HK person is going to defend china or hk when trouble starts.
5. can anyone ask the UK why they didnt give us universal suffrage for 150 years, even though they were the ones who started this concept?
Carparklee
"high degree of autonomy under the 'one country, two systems' framework" as said by the VP, he also sees the importance of the emphasis over the hard fact about "One country"...
sinohog
I have had the pleasure of meeting Martin Lee while on a stroll on the Peak. I was pleasantly surprised at how approachable that he was. In contrast, many in power are very hard to approach. I won't mention any names. Such is a characteristic of democracy. "Of the people by the people for the people". Abraham Lincoln. It reminds me of the populist former ambassador Gary Locke. if you will recall Gary Locke enjoyed riding around on the MTR while he was commerce sec. Joe Biden has a history of being an outspoken maverick who doesn't mince words. It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't care about upsetting the mainland and losing business contracts. However, Gary Locke was very sensitive about upsetting the mainland and instead said very little to upset them while showing them by example how democratic leaders behave while under the microscope of public scrutiny. In short, both Martin Lee share a lot in common in their more direct approach. I'm not surprised that they felt quite comfortable meeting with each other. As far as the Republican party goes, I don't think that it is fair to use Jesse Helms as a representation of Republicans in general. The difference dates back to the Carter administration's normalization of ties with mainland China, while the Republicans took a more conservitive approach then of keeping the status quo of keeping diplomatic ties with Taiwan and refusing to bow to the mainland's request to break ties. That is the context which is missing.
XYZ
Please give credit where it is due. It was Republican President Richard Nixon who shocked and gratified the world when he "went to China" and coaxed China out of its self-imposed international isolation.
.
President Carter's subsequent normalisation of relations with China was a mere formality remembered mainly for Mr. Carter's shameless promotion of Coca-Cola, headquartered in his home state of Georgia, whilst visiting China.
mercedes2233
Nixon 'coaxed China out of its self-imposed international isolation'? I thought China did it by itself, indicating its preparedness to open itself to the rest of the world with the Ping Pong Diplomacy. Then Nixon came running at China's invitation.
wiseman
Go back home and discuss your own politics in your country, please.

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