Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from China is being eroded, a UK parliamentary panel said in a new report, warning that the city could face a governance crisis if tensions over how it is ruled are not resolved.
In the report released Friday on Britain’s ties with Hong Kong, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee urged London to press China harder to ensure that “fundamental rights” are protected in the former British colony.
A delicate balance “has recently come under strain amidst debate over Hong Kong’s political and constitutional future,” the report said. “This, in turn, fuels our concern about Hong Kong’s overall direction of travel.”
In other comments, the committee said it fears that the British Foreign Office’s “lack of clarity” in expressing its views on the issue “may be damaging the UK’s reputation” in Hong Kong.
“We agree with the UK government that the specific details of constitutional reform are for the governments of China and Hong Kong to decide together with the people of Hong Kong,” it said.
“But we do not share its view that the current electoral proposals for 2017 offer ‘genuine choice’ to the people of Hong Kong. We also judge that the UK can and should take a clearer position on the overall pace and degree of democratic reform.”
A scheduled state visit to Britain by Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year could be a good opportunity “to convey to the Chinese government that really, it’s not in their interests to go on the way they are,” Agence France-Presse quoted the panel’s chairman Richard Ottaway as saying.
While the British parliamentary committee cannot force China to change its behavior, it can offer guidance, he said.
“It’s almost advice to China from a country that’s had a democracy for hundreds of years — that if you offer the people a bit of democracy, they’re going to want the whole lot and that until they get a complete package of democracy, this is going to be a continuing problem for them,” Ottaway told AFP.
[parliament.uk] UK should stand up for Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy
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