Date
19 August 2017
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond wants legislators to work with the government to try to achieve a consensus that is acceptable to Hong Kong people. Photo: Reuters
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond wants legislators to work with the government to try to achieve a consensus that is acceptable to Hong Kong people. Photo: Reuters

Britain urges consensus on electoral reform

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Hong Kong government and the Legislative Council should work together to pave the way for electoral reform this year.

Both sides should try to achieve a consensus that is acceptable to Hong Kong people, Hammond said in a report to parliament.

“I continue to believe that the best way to preserve Hong Kong’s strengths is through a transition to universal suffrage, which delivers a genuine choice for the people of Hong Kong,” he said.

“This would enhance the legitimacy of the Hong Kong chief executive, contribute to improved governance and help ensure continued confidence in ‘one country, two systems’.”

The report, published Friday, was the 36th in a series of submissions to the British parliament on the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the basis for Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to Chinese sovereignty.

It comes amid a political stand-off over a Beijing-backed election framework for the 2017 chief executive election.

Hammond said the parameters endorsed by the National People’s Congress in August last year on the 2017 election are “clearly more restrictive than many anticipated”.

However, he said there is space within them for a meaningful step forward.

A consensus would lead to greater democracy in the election of Hong Kong’s next leader and allow Legco to be elected by universal suffrage in 2020, he said.

The report reaffirmed Britain’s position on the Joint Declaration, saying the document guarantees Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens.

It said Britain has an “ongoing, legitimate interest in its implementation” and will continue to monitor developments.

Meanwhile, Labor Party lawmaker Cyd Ho accused the British government of betraying Hong Kong, saying it is trying to get Hong Kong people to accept fake universal suffrage.

She said Britain should explain its stance on Hong Kong because it’s different from its undertaking in the Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong people should decide their and future and not rely on any foreign country, she said.

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