• Wed
  • Oct 15, 2014
  • Updated: 9:50pm
Universal Suffrage
NewsHong Kong

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.


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

Formerly ******
The CCP, a dictatorial political party that masquerades as a government, has murdered its own people to retain power and gather wealth for its party members. Who in the hell would be so stupid as to trust such a party to rule them?
What they couldn't keep they'll try to **** up.
I don't think the CCP needs any help with that. They're doing a fine job on their own, don't you think?
Why stop at just this ‘inquiry’ in Hong Kong?
Let’s start an international inquiry into Tibet… Xinjiang… the South China Seas in intrusions into Philippines space, Vietnam space, Japanese airspace, and other ASEAN countries. Let’s see clearly why China is so interested in Africa and its resources. After seeing the whole picture, people can understand what the ‘Chinese Dream’ really means and the real meaning behind ‘China’s Peaceful Rise’.
The Brits grabbed lands over half the world and called them colonies (what America was doing to Iraq) and after having surreptitiously sowed the seeds of trouble in places like India, Malaya, Kenya and HK, the British politicians then granted them independence or return of sovereignty to China in the case of HK. They walked away from all these troubles and now they want to "keep an open mind" for Hong Kong. Let's be pragmatic. I would very much welcome them back, have tea, stay at the Peninsula or Shangri-la, listen to HK people talking and them talking. Then it's time for them to go home. These politicians can't be more hypocritical than this. Although I am not a great fan of the CCP, the Chinese have all the clout to ignore these small potatoes. There has been too much "do as I say, don't do as I do" by the Brits when it comes to colony administration. Now the mantra is being repeated here in HK, by the CCP. We are the ones who suffer.
I agree with most of what you say (I'm really no fan of politicians of any hue) but the Joint Declaration is binding in international law, which makes the inquiry a little harder to ignore. Who knows what the Brits are really trying to achieve with this inquiry, but the CCP sure seems rattled.
Now the British want democracy in HK. HK could have had democracy at any point between 1840 and 1997, what do the British have to say about that?
The British signed HK over China in 1984, simply because whatever they could extract from HK was not worth the confrontation with China. The British government took HK from Ching dynasty for one reason only Trade and Money, how much is HK worth defending to Britain? The answer is less than the benefits Britain can extract from HK. WWII isn't that far away. Or ask our cousin Singapore - defend Singapore till the last bullet, oops.. I meant champagne.
The reason HK was not given democracy before 1997 is the same reason we don't have democracy now: China. Britain's freedom of action was always limited by what China would tolerate. The idea that the UK could ever have defended HK militarily from China is a non-starter. In the 1960s, particularly around the time of the Cultural Revolution, the PRC occasionally turned off HK's water supply to make the point. I realise your masters in the CCP propaganda machinery have only the vaguest grasp of the facts of history, but you need to do better than this if you don't want us here in HK continuing to laugh at your posts.
The nature of colonies is to extract its resources. If HK has nothing worth extracting like you said, and the UK just wants to help. Then this is a sign of true friendship.
Thr Brits are still extracting a lot out of Hong Kong, not to mention the large number of Brits who can't get jobs working here in grandiose-titled roles with pumped-up salaries. The Parliamentarians have to put on a show now and again for appearance-sake. If they truly wanted to have a say, Cameron would have had a few words during the Chinese-premier's recent visit.




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