Hong Kong democracy advocates critical of Britain

Anson Chan and William Lee told British Parliament members the 1997 transfer agreement of Hong Kong to China was not being respected.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  July 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM
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LONDON, July 17 (UPI) -- Two leading proponents of democracy in Hong Kong were critical of Britain's failure to live up to its responsibilities.

Speaking at parliamentary committee hearings Wednesday in London, Anson Chan and Martin Lee noted the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong to China, from its status as a British protectorate, included guarantees of civil liberties and capitalism Chan and Lee claim Britain is ignoring.

They referred to a lack of comment or action from the British government when China outlined its plan in a report, several weeks ago, in which Beijing asserted "complete jurisdiction" over Hong Kong. The report led to demonstrations in the city and fears that autonomy -- including election of political leaders and other civil liberties -- would be abandoned.

"We're concerned that neither of the two signatories to the Joint Declaration -- that is, China and Britain -- is adequately fulfilling their respective responsibilities on the terms of this internationally binding treaty," said Chan, formerly the second-highest official in Hong Kong.

"We understand that the United Kingdom, like many other nations, is keen to expand its trade ties with an increasingly wealthy and economically powerful China. We welcome this, but I want to stress that this cannot and must not be at the expense of its legal and moral obligations to Hong Kong under the terms of the Joint Declaration."

The declaration of the transfer of power, written in 1984, mentions Hong Kong is to have "a high degree of autonomy" and "executive, legislative and independent judicial power" for at least 50 years after the transfer.

Lee, a lawyer who helped draft Hong Kong's Basic law of government, noted the Beijing report imposed political requirements of judges, which he regarded as an interference in Hong Kong's independence.

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