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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:50pm
Universal Suffrage
NewsHong Kong
UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE

Britain moves to defuse tensions with Beijing over Hong Kong’s political reform

Statement makes no mention of 1984 joint declaration, which stipulated that Hong Kong should enjoy extensive autonomy under the "one country, two systems" principle

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 11:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 9:17am
 

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The British government on Thursday said it welcomed Beijing's assurances that it would allow Hong Kong to elect its chief executive through universal suffrage, but failed to mention Britain's treaty obligation outlined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In a statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British government said: “We welcome the confirmation that China’s objective is for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive through universal suffrage,”

“The UK’s position has always been that the detail of the constitutional package is for the governments of Hong Kong and China and the people of Hong Kong to decide in line with the Basic Law,” the statement read.

“While we recognise that there is no perfect model, the important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice and a real stake in the outcome,” the statement continued. “We recognise that the detailed terms that the National People’s Congress has set for the 2017 election will disappoint those who are arguing for a more open nomination process.”

While we recognise that there is no perfect model, the important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice and a real stake in the outcome 
Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office

“We hope that the next period of consultation will produce arrangements which allow a meaningful advance for democracy in Hong Kong, and we encourage all parties to engage constructively in discussion to that end.”

However, the statement made no mention of the 1984 joint declaration, which stipulated that Hong Kong should enjoy extensive autonomy under the "one country, two systems" principle after reunification with the mainland on July 1, 1997.

The response comes two days after Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, wrote in the Financial Times calling on London to stand up to Beijing as it had a “moral and obligation” to the city, having co-signed the 1984 treaty.

The Chief Executive’s Office hit back at Patten’s comments on Beijing’s reform plan on Thursday, after Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai criticised Patten for looking at Hong Kong from a “pre-handover viewpoint”.

On Sunday, the National People's Congress Standing Committee ruled that while Hong Kong could pick its chief executive under "one man, one vote" in 2017, the candidates for the job would be chosen by a 1,200-member nominating committee, which would put forward only two or three who had to win the support of over half its members.

Pan-democrats – who fear only pro-Beijing candidates will be allowed to stand – described 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.

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This article is now closed to comments

williechow
"(British government) failed to mention Britain's treaty obligation outlined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration."
When did a joint declaration become a treaty?
akwils
The Joint Declaration under which the territory passed from British to Chinese rule specifies:
****www.cmab.gov.hk/en/issues/jd3.htm#con
Point 2. The HKSAR will be directly under the authority of the Central People’s Government of the PRC and will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs.
Point 4. The Government of the HKSAR will be composed of local inhabitants but the chief executive will be appointed by the Central People’s Government and he will nominate the principal officials. Furthermore the legislature of the HKSAR shall be constituted by elections.
Beside, Hong Kong chief executive was certainly not democratically nominated when Hong Kong was a British colony.
Criticising the PRC is doing a disservice to the people of Hong Kong as this will harden the position in Beijing where western intervention is met with fury which is not surprising considering the past.
The judiciary has never been questioned by Beijing only the way the chief executive will be nominated before the election. Who in his right state of mind can imagine that the PRC, of which Hong Kong is a SAR would not vet such a candidate?
Actually most Hong Konger remember that they are a SAR as 150,000 motivated "pro occupy" demonstrators were a small minority in a population of about 5 million adults.
raglan
The limeys already have their hands full taking on Putin, there's no need to pick a fight with Beijing.
williechow
To be fair to Patten, he was dead wrong.
cleareye
How shallow (better pay, cheap and good housing)...! Please look up the GDP per capita for China vs. GDP/Capita for Hong Kong before telling HK'ers to stick their palm out for more freebies. Anyone who demands happiness bestowed by others never has and never deserves. Lastly, please define HK citizens and name one, or do you mean Chinese citizens? Your mindset is like all those plagued with mouth ulcers that Hong Kong is a country thus be treated as one. Now, do you know how your comments appears in public?
captam
I wish your reports would not 'put words into our mouths', concerning what was promised in the Joint Declaration.
You state Hong Kong was promised "EXTENSIVE" autonomy. The exact words used were " a high degree of autonomy" and did not include the word "Extensive".
Modern usage of the word 'extensive' frequently suggests more than just a degree, whether modified by the words "high', "low" or whatever. Many dictionaries suggest the word "extensive" even implies "very full" and "complete". ( Merriam Webster Dictionary) .
The use of this word is perhaps deliberate creepage (?) . Politicians use this tactic repeatedly. They use a slightly different word, which although broadly of similar meaning contains different nuances and exploits the "greyness" of a word's meaning. If repeated often enough, before long the public and press follow and start using the new term. This is why we often hear pro-democracy politicians and commentators expressing verbally that Hong Kong was promised "full internal autonomy" except for defence and foreign affairs matters.
Stick to the correct terminology when your reports make claims about what the Joint Declaration and Basic Law promise.
anthonygmail
Britain should just do the honorable thing and give citizenship, a council house and dole money to any Hongkongers willing to put up with the s.h.i.tty weather and racism. A few million more Chinese is nothing compared to the gypsies and other eastern Europeans crossing the Channel in the past decade.
kongshan2047
What makes people think that Britain or any western countries actually care about whether HK or any other place on the planet has democracy? How many of the regimes that the US and its allies support today and in the past are actually democratic? Is any of the pro-US/western regimes in the middle east democratic? If Iraq and Kuwait didn't have any black gold underneath their ground, would US and Britain fought for them? If it was not to defend its own political and economic interest in Libya, would France have led the way to topple Gaddafi?
tfung
wow... looks like Patten has eaten one too many egg tarts....
globenet
In addition, the British have always taken from HKG.
China have been giving to HKG. If it was not because of China supporting the HKD economy during the doldrums, will most of HKGers be where you are today? All these ripple that we see in HKG have been instigated by foreign entities for various reasons....
Open your eyes, and read between the lines......

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