Beijing and Hong Kong have reduced misunderstandings through dialogue but the 'one country, two systems' principle still faces a learning curve, outgoing US Consul-General James Keith says. He believes the international community will continue to play a role in Hong Kong's move towards universal suffrage under mainland rule. Mr Keith yesterday completed his three-year assignment with a vote of confidence in the city's rule of law and future democratisation. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, he said there had been a positive trend to the interaction between Beijing, the Hong Kong government and the community. 'It seems to me the number of fundamental misunderstandings has gone down and the attempt to deal with the other side's point of view in an honest and respectful way has gone up,' he said. The latest example Mr Keith cited was the discussion before the interpretation of the Basic Law on the term of the chief executive, which he said was an improvement from last year's abrupt ruling against universal suffrage. He said it was understandable that Basic Law drafters could not have envisaged all the challenges. 'It is natural that the process will be a little rocky at times. It will require something of a learning curve on the part of both the central authorities as well as the Hong Kong government. A little give and take is understandable,' the envoy said. 'When we look back on the first 10 years [since the handover], it's likely that there will be a record of steady movement towards universal suffrage and a more solid basis for democracy.' He rejected claims that international influence on Hong Kong's democratic course was waning and said the US would continue to speak out on the city's affairs despite Beijing's opposition against so-called interference from outside. 'Certainly, universal suffrage is a domestic issue. The central government will do whatever they deem appropriate, based on their own interpretation of their own interests,' he said. 'But as they consider the consequences and the impact of Hong Kong's success in future, inevitably they [will] think about the international context.'