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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:41am
Universal Suffrage
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UK lawmakers may visit Hong Kong as part of inquiry into Joint Declaration

Parliamentary inquiry into Sino-British Joint Declaration looking at pace of political and constitutional reform amid Beijing's asserting control

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 10:10am
 

UK lawmakers may visit Hong Kong as part of a parliamentary probe of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, 30 years after it was signed - a move welcomed by pan-democratic heavyweight Martin Lee Chu-ming.

The inquiry - led by the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is made up of MPs from Britain's three main political parties - will also review London's relations with its former colony.

The committee said in a statement that Britain, a co-signatory of the joint declaration, "retains an enduring commitment to Hong Kong following the transfer of sovereignty in 1997".

British parliamentary officials are encouraging members of the public, including Hongkongers, to submit written evidence.

Part of the probe will focus on political and constitutional reform as Hong Kong moves towards universal suffrage.

The lawmakers will review the implementation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, and the joint declaration in the spirit of offering "a high degree of autonomy and basic rights and freedoms for the people of the Hong Kong".

"It's possible the committee might want to visit Hong Kong to see for itself," a senior parliamentary source said.

Welcoming the inquiry, Lee said: "I have always thought the British parliament is much more concerned than the government. This is certainly very positive and good news for Hong Kong."

The parliamentary source said the committee "was becoming aware of concerns" in recent months. Beijing released a white paper on June 10 emphasising its control over the city's affairs. This was viewed by critics as going against the promise of a high degree of autonomy in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

And there has been an increasingly heated debate over the Occupy Central civil disobedience momvement, which is promising to bring the business district to a standstill if the Hong Kong government fails to come up with what it sees as a satisfactory reform proposal. Last week Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, vowed to mobilise the international community if Beijing failed to uphold "one country, two systems" for Hong Kong. But Beijing officials insist that electoral reform has to "strictly follow" the Basic Law.

The timing of the inquiry comes just over a week since former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Lee presented their concerns to the committee.

Once the committee finishes receiving written evidence by mid-October, it plans to hear testimony. A final report will be released "early next year" before the British general election.

A British lawmakers' visit could be significant , said Professor Patrick Dunleavy of the London School of Economics.

He said the committee could "draw attention to the support for democratisation," and put pressure on the British Foreign Office "to stiffen up its language".

Dunleavy also said that representatives of the Hong Kong offices of the big four accountancy firms that recently issued newspaper adverts opposing Occupy Central could be questioned by the committee.

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This article is now closed to comments

ejmciii
It must really irritate you Beijing tools that people remember that the masters made agreements in order to get the Handover they desperately wanted. Now people want the masters to honor their agreements. How unharmonious!!! The temerity of seeking to have the Masters honor their agreements. What next? A demand for universal suffrage? Heresy.
ianson
The Basic Law was written in the context of the Joint Declaration and nothing in it undermines or is contrary to that declaration. Today's question for one of the two interested parties to the agreement is whether the other is defying the Basic Law and the Declaration. The CCP is acting in blatant defiance of it and that is the root cause of the spawning of movements like Occupy Central. If Beijing was not so boisterous and dictatorial about its obliviousness to the agreement it made at State level, none of this conflict would have arisen.
johnh
research "Sino-British Joint Declaration"
ianson
The CCPs approach to legal representation for its citizens is altogether better, you will tell us, ngsw. There, if you happen to have a different view to the powers that be and have the gall to express it, not only do you go to jail for, say, 6.5 years (see Dong Rubin today) but your lawyer gets locked up with you. I'll take our system with all its faults.
mh0908
Hong Kong is an International City and therefore we should welcome anyone from Britain with open arms! Hong Kongers are also gracious and fun loving people. We should throw the biggest to welcome our former colonial masters! This is what I would suggest:
-
Swire/CX - Free trip to all MPs who wish to visit. Briefing by Swire executives on the political and business situation in HK;
Jardine/Hong Kong Land/Mandarin Hotel - Free accommodation for the MPs. Briefing by Jardine executives on the political and business situation in HK;
Allan Zeman - Free drinks at his LKF establishments and arrange free pass to Ocean Park;
Jockey Club - Free badges to race course at HV and Shatin; But since most races are on Sundays so must leave early to join regular protests on any given Sundays in Hong Kong;
Randomly allocate each MP to spend a day with regular HK families and expat families to get an all rounded view of HK from different walk of life.
Mr. Kadoorie volunteers for the program and will take such MP with his heli to the Kadoorie Farm and The Pen for dinner.
-
You will find the Hong Kong Club, Zetland Hall, the RHKYC still here and thriving. All familiar sights! Come! We want you to see and experience the freedom to dance and freedom to bet on horse racings for yourself!
ngsw
ianson, Do you know the price of take a legal bus. I am not talking about Ferrari, I am talking about bus. Just an ordinary barrister can get you broke. The whole legal industry is monopolizing the market. They even insist a solicitor in between and deny citizens direct contact with a barrister. Ridiculous. Justice is their game, not for ordinary citizens. Vested interest is something no one like to give up. With his wealth, he is still taking money from Fatso Lai. Strange.
5353b57f-a9f4-46e1-903d-34f50a320969
Careful now with this kind of distractions the Brits might be so disaffected to make their fact-finding probe an annual do :-}
cleareye
Yes, come to Hong Kong. Do some shopping and support our retail sector. Your Parliamentary forgot that the Joint Declaration was succeeded by the Basic Law that was drafted by both sides. Even if you openly admit that you screwed up on the Basic Law by not putting more dots over the i's and crosses on the t's, you cannot turn the clock back and say let's start over and replay the Handover.
ianson
Let me assist you in your ignorance, ngsw. If you want the best in anything, you pay top dollar. If you can't afford the very best, that doesn't mean you cannot procure something that works reasonably well. You don't need a Ferrari to get from Victoria Park to Queen's Road Central, you can do it in as much comfort in something costing a tenth of the price. Those who pay Mr Lee's brief are not forced to do so. He sucks no blood; it's delivered to him happily.
honger
"representatives of the Hong Kong offices of the big four accountancy firms that recently issued newspaper adverts opposing Occupy Central could be questioned by the committee."
Exactly. Come, come! See and hear what the silent majoirty says besides the pan dems' version of what is actually happening here. Who are the ones who do not want to follow the Basic Law or the one country two systems here?
Let UK taxpayers fund this junket for them!

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