Hong Kong’s last British governor Chris Patten said countries should not be afraid to stand up to China over democratic rights in the territory.
Speaking before the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Thursday, Patten said it was ridiculous to suggest that standing up for principles would harm economic ties with China, Reuters reported.
“China’s exports to the United States went up by 1,600 percent in 15 years. So who need whom?” Patten was quoted as saying.
He also dismissed Chinese charges that foreigners were behind the pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong, calling such allegations a “slur” on a “wonderfully principled” movement.
Patten has accused Britain of failing to exert enough pressure on China to stick to the provisions of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty because it was worried about damaging trade ties.
Members of the US bipartisan commission, established in 2000 to monitor human rights in China, proposed a bill last week calling for renewed US commitment to democracy and autonomy in Hong Kong.
The bill would update a 1992 act that treats Hong Kong differently to China on trade and economic matters, and requires President Barack Obama to certify the territory is sufficiently autonomous before enacting new laws or agreements, according to the news agency.
Commission co-chairman Senator Sherrod Brown said Hong Kong was a test of China’s willingness to comply with its international commitments.
“If China can so easily renege on its promises to Hong Kong, then how can we expect China to hold up its end of the bargain on issues like World Trade Organization compliance or future trade agreements?” Brown was quoted as saying.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday reiterated that foreign countries should not “interfere” with Hong Kong’s internal affairs, the report said.
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