• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 10:44am
Universal Suffrage
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Britain will 'keep an open mind' in probe of Hong Kong political reform

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 2:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 September, 2014, 12:43pm
 

Undeterred by warnings from Beijing, British lawmakers will press ahead with an inquiry into post-handover Hong Kong and will visit the city with an "open mind" seeking to meet people from all shades of politics.

Richard Ottaway, chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Sunday Morning Post: "We are planning to come in December and I have no reason to think that we won't be there."

The British lawmakers launched their inquiry in July to examine the implementation of the Joint Declaration, which states Hong Kong should have a high degree of autonomy and executive power and that personal rights must be enshrined by law.

The inquiry would welcome evidence from all interested parties, Ottaway said.

"We want [to meet] those in favour of the argument, those against, those who want to put a different angle on things and I very much hope the Hong Kong government will also give evidence to us," Ottaway said. "If we have something from them, it will be of great interest to us."

A letter from China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, dated July 14 and released by the committee on its website last week, warned members against visiting Hong Kong. "I do not think your planned visit to Hong Kong is helpful and strongly advise you not make it," Liu wrote.

CLICK ON LETTERS TO ENLARGE

A second letter, from the National People's Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, sent to the British committee in July said it viewed the inquiry as interference in China's internal affairs and called for it to be cancelled.

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London repeated the warning in a letter from director general Erica Ng.

Ottaway spoke on the eve of the first visit by United States National Security Adviser Susan Rice to Beijing since she took the job 15 months ago. Administration officials said she would raise US concerns over the stand-off in Hong Kong over electoral reform.

Ottaway said Beijing's distrust of the inquiry was misplaced, as similar reports had shown the British "open mind and fairness when faced with the evidence".

"The Hong Kong government, the Chinese government and the National People's Congress shouldn't necessarily think that we are automatically hostile," Ottaway said.

No meetings have yet been scheduled for the trip, as Ottaway said experience had shown it was better to plan closer to the date. The inquiry will hear evidence next month.

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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
The word you are looking for is "bullying", not "angry". China signed an agreement with the UK. The UK has the right to check if the terms of that agreement have been kept. Any country that does not know this is not all that fit for international discourse.
538ea34a-b404-43bb-bc14-34f40a320969
Beijing's bullying beggars belief
LSH TONG
its about time UK, Beijing needs to remember that they weren't handed a "blank cheque" to do whatever they want with Hong Kong.
It was handed over with conditions and if Beijing can't honour the agreements then why should the UK?
The fact that China, when hearing of this inquiry, started to panic and had to stand up and shout across the table, but not in defence of their actions but to divert the issues on some completely different.
Such typical CCP actions. If you can't deny your position, make everyone look somewhere else and say whatever you can until one might sound plausible. Doesn't matter if it's true or not, as long as they can get stop people from looking into how rotten they are, its good enough.
dchan@5plusdesign.com
I dont get it. The deal was signed between China and UK. So, between the parties that signed the deal, it is wrong for one of the party to question the the other on the basis of the deal? I beg your pardon, I fail to see what is so ridiculous.
Ant Lee
Hong Kong people remember why their parents or grandparents risked their lives to leave the Chinese communist to come to British HK in the first place. Because of censorship and lack of individual thinking, most chinese government officials have common sense and IQ of a 5 year old and have no understanding in how to run a sophisticated advanced society like HK. No one in HK (except the uneducated lower class or the businessmen with vested interests in China) would want hong kong to be ruled by communist china.
Anti communist HKer
If Beijing was doing everything in accordance of the Joint Declaration, then there would be no need for an inquiry, and nothing for Beijing to hide. And Beijing would not be so upset about London looking into this.
The fact that Beijing is being so defensive and angry about this -- to the point of subtly threatening UK-China relations -- speaks volumes about the wrongs that China is doing to Hong Kong.
sipsip1238
“sound momentum of growth in China-UK relations has not come easily” - no, it didn't come easy at all with all the growth from purely the population size (thus inefficient) and also the shadow banking and development spending building ghost cities that no one can pay for now.
In fact, as much as some GDP will be lost globally if China shuts its doors again, I'm sure the bottom section of each society will be completely ok with it. The way China is operating right now does not win any friends at all.
Not that friendship ever meant anything to people in China.
Asia Pulse
If China did not want other countries to meddle in its internal affaire, then it should have thought more carefully over before it did the exact same thing to other countries.
At the end of the day, they'll just have to suck it up and live with it.
rsallen
These letters constitute an outrageous interference in the UK's internal affairs.
grosvenor2007
Get your facts straight. China is doing everything in accordance to the Basic Laws and Joint Declaration, its the pan-democrats that are attempting to bend those promises and breach the laws and agreements. Your statement should go: how can the pan-democrats be trusted?

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