Two senior pan-democrats yesterday met the Democratic Party leader of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in Washington, where they are believed to have discussed Hong Kong's political development.
Anson Chan Fang On-sang, the former chief secretary and the convenor of pro-democracy group Hong Kong 2020, and Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, are halfway through a two-week visit to the United States and Canada.
Yesterday's meeting came after the pair attended talks organised by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China to discuss Hong Kong's prospects of democracy and press freedom.
Commission co-chairman Senator Sherrod Brown described the future of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong as being "under serious threat".
"China promised to let the people of Hong Kong freely elect their leaders... China is backtracking on these promises," Brown, a Democrat, said after the hour-long meeting.
"This commission has made it a priority to monitor and report on developments in Hong Kong, and we will continue to do so."
His fellow chairman, Republican representative Christopher Smith, expressed concern about the city's "steady erosion of press freedom", citing the knife attack on former Ming Pao editor-in-chief Kevin Lau Chun-to and the abrupt sacking of former Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling.
"If given a real choice, people everywhere vote to advance representative governments that protect the rule of law and the fundamental freedom," said Smith.
"The people of mainland China do not have such a choice and attempts to pursue universally recognised rights are often met with brutality and harassment. This cannot be Hong Kong's future."
On another visit to the States back in 2009, Lee had discussed the city's constitutional development with Pelosi, then the Speaker of the House.
At the start of their trip last weekend, Chan and Lee gave a speech on the city's democratic future at an Asia Society event.
They are expected to head to Canada this weekend to deliver speeches on political reform.
Pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po yesterday ran a one-page article featuring seven Beijing loyalists who condemned the duo for being naïve, inviting external interference and "betraying" Hong Kong with their trip.
Its headline read: "Martin Lee and Anson Chan condemned for betraying Hong Kong."
The article criticised the two for "pretending" to represent Hong Kong, adding that they should not encourage external interference in China's internal politics.
National People's Congress delegate Priscilla Lau Pui-king slammed the US for not respecting other nations' sovereignty.