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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:00am
Universal Suffrage
NewsHong Kong

Britain has ‘moral obligation’ to speak up on Hong Kong, says ex-governor Chris Patten

Vetting of chief executive in future elections 'more or less' what happens in Iran, says Patten as he urges London to speak up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 9:45am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 2:58am

It is London’s “duty” to speak up on Beijing’s recent decision about Hong Kong’s political reform because Britain has a “moral obligation” to the city, according to a former colonial governor of Hong Kong.

In an article published in the Financial Times, Chris Patten also stressed that even if there were “commercial consequences” for speaking up – referring to trade ties between Britain and China – they should not “be an overriding concern when our honour is on the line”.

“The Joint Declaration under which the territory passed from British to Chinese rule guaranteed Hong Kong’s way of life for 50 years after 1997 … As successive British governments have accepted, the UK has a continuing ‘moral and political obligation’ to ensure that China respects its commitments,” Patten said.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed on December 19, 1984, stipulated that Hong Kong shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle after its re-unification with China on July 1, 1997.

“We have a huge stake in the wellbeing of Hong Kong, with a political system in balance with its economic freedom. I hope these questions will be resolved in a way that does not jeopardise the city’s future,” Patten said.

On Sunday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruled that while Hong Kong can pick its chief executive by “one man, one vote” in 2017, a 1,200-member nominating committee will only put forward two or three candidates who have won the support of half of its members.

Pan-democrat lawmakers criticised the decision as “unacceptable”, because the nomination threshold was only one-eighth when a 1,200-strong Election Committee nominated and elected Leung Chun-ying in 2012.

Patten echoed the pan-democrats’ criticism and wrote that Beijing’s decision would “prevent democrats and others of whom China might disapprove from seeking election”.

“Such vetting is more or less what happens in Iran,” the former governor wrote, describing it as a “denial” of democracy.

“On this occasion my comments are not directed principally to Beijing or Hong Kong’s democrats. What a former Hong Kong governor can more legitimately do is to invite an interrogation of Britain’s sense of honour. It may not be welcome to ministers, at a time when so many appallingly difficult international issues crowd their agenda, to remind them that we have moral responsibilities for what happens in Hong Kong,” Patten said.

Patten concluded that: “The British government will comment on Beijing’s plan. This would not be a provocation but a duty. No one can seriously believe that this would have commercial consequences, or that such consequences should be an overriding concern when our honour is on the line.”

Separately, the Democratic Party’s founder chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming told RTHK on Wednesday morning that some British lawmakers had planned to launch an inquiry on the implementation of the Joint Declaration before his visit to the UK in July.

“Some MPs had told me they were planning to launch an inquiry [but] it was not launched because of our visit,” Lee said.

Lee added that he could not predict how the British government would react to the inquiry, but he believed that UK lawmakers would conduct it fairly and a debate would be held in parliament.

Lee also reiterated that the NPC Standing Committee had failed to follow its procedures to have laid a stringent framework for the city’s political reform.

And Beijing could amend the framework anytime if there was strong demand from Hongkongers, he added.

“Things could still change as long as it has not become law formally,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the United States “supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and the aspirations of the Hong Kong people”.

“We believe that an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” she said.

It was the second time that Washington had commented on political reform in Hong Kong since Beijing made the decision on Sunday. Tokyo and Taipei also gave their views on the matter but London has yet to give any comment.

The Kyodo News reported earlier that the Japanese government is concerned about political development in Hong Kong.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said in a press conference that he strongly hopes that Hong Kong can remain “free and open” under the “one country, two systems” policy.



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Communists please stick to posting on Weibo...
HK'ers can use Facebook, Youtube,SCMP and stream **** because of the old governer...
So please don't hate just carry on spreading your hate and propaganda on your own dedicated Chinese sites. Nobody wants to hear or see you in HK.
Thank u
To all the people saying Chris should bugger off cause he was appointed by the queen...
Do you not want democracy for Hong Kong?
At least Great Britain has Democracy whereas in Mainland China;democracy is a complete alien concept.
Why tell off someone who is willing to fight for your freedom, you are all a bunch of retards...
If it wasn't for the British you wouldn't even be able to stage any protest against the government ie look at Macau
Why people always fall into the trap whining about the political system under the Brits long time ago. That is not the issue !
The issue is today and our political future. We Hongkongers look at our current and future political development .
Under the Brits we had no democracy, no universal suffrage - absolutely correct. But we had mostly a decent and comfortable life under their rule, didn't have to fear the British Military and they didn't roll over Hongkong students with their tanks.
If 2 parties sign an agreement (Joint Declaration), both parties need to adhere to the agreement and both sides have the right to monitor the adherence by the other party.
Sadly Communist Chinese have no morals and will not understand anyone seeking to challenge the masters as they destroy HK so they can maintain their stranglehold on China. We need more such voices denouncing these tyrants in Beijing.
Like a communist mongrel would understand honor or morals. Chinese Communists are utterly immoral tyrants. Yes, thank goodness more and more voices come out to condemn your masters and their behavior. If only more of these communist propaganda tools could have their stinking carcasses deported to their toilet to the north and never be allowed to sully our city with their filth. How do you like them apples, tool?
CPC has not right to protest destabilization. If that is true that Britain is trying to destabilize China, by which you of course mean Communist rule of China, it is a good thing, Everyone would believes in freedom and the right to choose ones leaders should destabilize the Communist Party dictatorship as much as they can. Since 1949, the CPC has murdered tens of millions of people and have never admitted the truth or apologized. They even imprison people for telling the truth about their 1989 massacre.
The CPC has been interfering in Chinese politics for decades, they have never held an election, because they know they would lose it. They came to power at the barrel of a gun. The assistance of the Japanese invaders was crucial to their seizure of power, because it destabilized the KMT regime. They have absolutely no right to complain about destabilization..
The UK should apologise to Hong Kong for making for this city is today - a competitive economy that turned it into a meaningful globally recognised city instead of some back water fishing hole that it once was.
I hate you UK!!!! You built our airport, you built our metro, you build all our infrastructure that have yet to collapse in just a few years in. Why oh why are trains not crashing into each other like in Wenzhou?! You should have tendered it to the mainland Chinese, which BTW saw the rail minster shot dead for corruption.
I also would like to RAISE A MIDDLE FINGER to the UK for making our universities some of the most liberal and recognised universities not only in Asia, but globally, bringing in masses of mainland students who decided that it is probably more useful to learn in an environment where you don't spend your every weekend praising the Chinese communist party.
I also blame the UK for giving us the liberty (ex-democracy) that made Hong Kong culture vibrant whether through cinema or canto-pop or even CCTVB, making this city a tourist trap that saw millions of mainlanders flood this unique East and West city, where I now have to fight the once spacious MTR space with baby powder cans and luggage carts.
Haters hate but look what's in front of you and tell me whether the British system with Chinese hard working ethics that made our city the town of millionaires. Singapore's another example.
At the time of Opium war, China was ruled by the Manchus. Every Han Chinese had to wear a pig tail. The Han Chinese only got their freedom from the Manchus because Britain destabilized Manchu rule.
At the time of the Opium war, every girl in China was ritually tortured and crippled by foot binding from age 3. This 1000 year old tradition was only ended by foreign intervention.
What type of 'Brit' are you? Please remove your tongue from your masters back side and lay off the shoe polishing. If you are British you are an incredible embarrassment and undoubtedly a weak individual. If you had any knowledge of Britain you would see the similarities with Hong Kong. The manufacturing sector has largely moved to other countries. But be careful not to jump head first into my little trap, think about FDI and then try to come up with something that might prove you have some British background. Clue - Hong Kong - FDI - Mainland China, UK - FDI - not Mainland China. Do you know the answer oh British one?
Daniel Lee
Former last Hong Kong British governor fat Chris Patten truly misses his good old days being lord of the flies, ruling over the colonials like the sycophantic Anson Chan, Martin Lee Chu Ming etc. his precious a r s e hole kissers, his fat do nothing good for HK salary and privileges. So according to this fat bugger, Britain has ‘moral obligation’ to speak up on Hong Kong but where is Britain's ‘moral obligation’ to speak up on the other ex-British colonies like Fiji, Malaysia, India, Pakistan etc. with their racism and oppression against minorities? Fat Chris is a hypocrite and if he still wants to speak up about HK, he should have the British government establish a mini-HK on the suburbs of London for his beloved colonials like Anson Chan, Martin Lee Chu Ming and the Pan-democrats. Good riddance for HK and a good move for a semblance of empire where the sycophants like Anson Chan, Martin Lee Chu Ming will still have their precious roles as slaves of the British empire.



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