Restrictions on the political activities of aliens, says the Chief Executive-designate's consultation document on civil liberties and social order, are 'acceptable by international standards'. To back its claim, the document cites Article 16 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which states that its provisions do not prevent signatories from imposing restrictions on foreigners. But different countries have different customs. The fact that such restrictions are acceptable does not mean they are universally applied or applied in the same way. A case recently in the news is the United States, where the Democratic Party has been in trouble for accepting political donations from Asian companies and where the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reported to be looking into evidence that China tried to buy political influence with illegal campaign contributions. In the US, foreign political contributions have been banned since 1966. Not only are foreign nationals banned from making contributions, whether at federal, state or local level, it is also an offence to accept their money. The ban applies to foreign governments, parties, companies, associations, partnerships and individuals - except Green Card-holders. However, foreign nationals are allowed to engage in political activities and even spend money, if elections are not involved. Canadian citizens over 18 are permitted to stand in elections. But they may not accept contributions from anyone who is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident, from corporations not conducting business in Canada, 'from unions not entitled to bargain collectively in Canada', or from foreign states or political parties. In Australia, there is no restriction on accepting overseas donations, provided the party knows the identity of the donor and declares the money. But only Australian citizens may stand. Similarly in Germany, only Germans can stand for parliament. But there is no restriction on foreign contributions. A European Union law obliges most of its members to permit other EU nationals to stand for municipal elections and the European Parliament. But Belgium, which has enough problem dividing its municipalities between speakers of its three official languages, has been allowed to opt out for now. As has Luxembourg, which has such a large Portuguese population that some of its municipalities might end up with only a minority of locals. Some countries actually allow foreigners and even non-residents to stand in their own parliaments. EU citizens are not eligible to stand as parliamentary candidates in Britain, although they can stand for local elections and for European Parliament elections. But citizens of the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland can stand for election in Britain. Theoretically, even Hong Kong people, technically still Commonwealth citizens until June 30, could stand in Britain's general election next month. And dissident Lau Shan-ching, who was barred from standing in Hong Kong's elections because of his time in a Chinese jail, could run for parliament because he was not imprisoned in Britain or Northern Ireland. At the last election many followers of an Indian guru stood as members of the Natural Law Party. Several were yogis from India, chosen for their powers of levitation. The only time they actually had to be present in Britain was to present their nomination papers. But foreign contributions for political parties have become a hot issue in Britain precisely because until now they have been legal and have been pursued as a major source of funds by the Conservative Party. A number of Hong Kong millionaires have been named in British reports, amongst them are Li Ka-shing and the late Sir Yue-kong Pao who was reportedly approached by the Prime Minister, John Major, when he visited Hong Kong in 1991. More recently Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind was in trouble in Britain for fund-raising while on a ministerial visit to the territory. Former party treasurer Lord McAlpine recalled in his memoir, Once a Jolly Bagman, how he and then party chairman Chris Patten solicited a GBP500,000 (about HK$6.25 million) campaign contribution from John Latsis, a Greek shipping millionaire. The Labour Party has pledged in its manifesto to ban foreign funding. Labour names all donors who give more than GBP5,000, refuses to accept donations from foreign sources and has called for an inquiry into political funds. Meanwhile, the Chief Executive-designate's office has drawn up a short comparison of national laws on public processions. Marchers require a permit in the US, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan, a licence in Malaysia and must notify the police in Britain, and South Korea. Most Australian states ask for notification or offer a permit. The list does not show what kind of notice is required or what restrictions govern the issue of permits, although it does say that notification in Korea must be given 48 hours in advance and the police may prohibit a procession.