Britain says it is important that Hong Kong people have a genuine choice and a real stake in the outcome of the chief executive election through universal suffrage.
“We recognise that the detailed terms that the National People’s Congress has set for the 2017 election will disappoint those who are arguing for a more open nomination process,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on its official website.
“We hope that the next period of consultation will produce arrangements that allow a meaningful advance for democracy in Hong Kong.”
Earlier, Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, said Britain has an obligation to ensure China respects its commitments under the Joint Declaration, the basis of the former British colony’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
He tied those commitments to Hong Kong’s political development.
The remarks, published in an op-ed article in the Financial Times, drew a sharp response from the Hong Kong Chief Executive Office which said all colonial governors were not elected by the people and the Joint Declaration does not provide for universal suffrage.
It said Hong Kong’s constitutional development under the Basic Law is “an internal affair of our country and a matter for the central authorities and our people to decide”.
Separately, Beijing loyalist Rita Fan told a radio program that there is no mention of universal suffrage in the Joint Declaration.
She said Patten’s understanding of Hong Kong is stuck in the days when it was under colonial rule.
Political commentator James Sung of City University said that although Patten was not elected by Hong Kong people, he had to be responsible to the legislature as governor.
Meanwhile, mainland mouthpiece Global Times said Britain should act as a “dignified audience” in Hong Kong’s political reform process, RTHK reported Thursday.
It said Britain has little, if any, political influence in this part of the world and that British Prime Minister David Cameron has refrained from commenting on Hong Kong politics for fear of ruining the country’s economic ties with China.
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