• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 5:15am
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong

Academics doubt Britain's pledge on standing up for Hong Kong's interests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 July, 2014, 5:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 July, 2014, 10:21am

Scepticism was expressed in Hong Kong yesterday about whether Britain would really stand up for the city's interests despite a pledge by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Two academics said the Conservative Party's concerns about trade relations with China remained the biggest hindrance to Britain offering more than "some moral backing".

Professor Lau Siu-kai and Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok were speaking after Clegg was quoted as saying Britain would "pursue every legal and other avenue available" if China breached the agreement vowing "one country, two systems".

Watch: Anson Chan slams Britain's latest report on Hong Kong in UK Parliament

Lau, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said that while Britain might give some moral support, "I don't think they are determined to do anything on behalf of Hong Kong's democratic reform".

Chan, an associate professor in political science at the Baptist University, said Clegg's Liberal Democrats - coalition partner of the Conservatives - were always "strongly behind" Hong Kong's democratic movement.

"But the Conservatives would [only speak up] if British interests in Hong Kong were being threatened," he said.

Clegg's remarks were quoted on Wednesday by pan-democrats Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Martin Lee Chu-ming, who are currently visiting Britain.

Meanwhile, Labour Party lawmaker Mark Hendrick has quoted an article by a former British diplomat to challenge the contention by Chan, the former chief secretary, and Lee, founding chairman of the Democratic Party, that Beijing's white paper last month contravened the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The paper, published online by the influential Chatham House policy institute, was titled, "White paper does not mark major shift on Hong Kong".

Dr Tim Summers, British consul-general in Chongqing from 2004 to 2007 and now a Hong Kong-based Chatham House consulting fellow, wrote: "The white paper has been seized upon by those who wish to push the centre to go beyond Basic Law provisions on the road to universal suffrage.

"But it is politics and not the text of the white paper which is behind the rise in political temperature in Hong Kong."


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back in '80, '81, GB had a chance to show her magnanimity by grant ALL 5 million plus HKG citizens right of abode and regular UK passports. but the so called defender of "freedom" Margaret Thatcher said "no" and came up with a strange scheme call BNO that most hongkong people discard today. so please gimme a break!
jay, the figure was much lower at about 2 million.
good point, jay.
As much as Hongkongers may dislike it, the white paper simply restates what we've always known: when it comes to a chief executive, Beijing will have the final say. The pan-democrats have tried to take advantage of the white paper, and you can't really blame them. Now it's time for the moderates to step up and get the best possible deal for Hong Kong. My suggestion would be to have both an election and a nominating committee, with the winner of the election being the candidate submitted to Beijing. However, if Beijing rejects the people's choice for whatever reason, the nominating committee should then submit a candidate. This may not be a deal the gung-ho democratic backers hoped for, but it is more realistic. Beijing should act in good faith and accept the candidate the people put forth, but if that is impossible, the nominating committee is a process Beijing prefers and will probably produce a candidate it will accept. At a time when public morale in Hong Kong could hardly be any lower regarding Beijing and its own government, giving the voters the first say would be a way for Beijing to give HK some respect.


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