23 January 2019
Martin Lee (inset) testified before a Canadian parliamentary panel despite strong objections by Beijing. Photos: Bloomberg, Reuters
Martin Lee (inset) testified before a Canadian parliamentary panel despite strong objections by Beijing. Photos: Bloomberg, Reuters

Martin Lee attends Canada congressional hearing on HK

Democratic Party co-founder Martin Lee Chu-ming has appeared before a Canadian parliamentary panel that conducted a hearing on issues related to Hong Kong political reform.

Lee gave testimony Tuesday at the hearing conducted by the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee of the Canadian House of Commons, drawing an angry reaction from Beijing.

At the hearing, Lee — a veteran lawyer and former legislator — said the framework decided by China for the 2017 Hong Kong chief executive election marks a violation of Beijing’s earlier promise to Hong Kong people, Apple Daily reported.

Hong Kong citizens are only allowed to pick one out of 2-3 puppet candidates chosen by Beijing under the framework, which is inconsistent with international standards of universal suffrage, he said.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 suggested that an international covenant also applies to Hong Kong, giving its citizens the right to vote and to be elected, Lee said.

Pan-democratic legislators are determined to veto any reform plan that is based on the framework laid out by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on August 31 last year, he said.

Lee testified before the Canadian panel despite a protest by the Chinese ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui. 

Luo wrote a letter to the Canadian parliamentary committee as well as the nation’s foreign minister, Robert Nicholson, urging them not to hold the hearing.

Issues related to development of Hong Kong’s political system constitute China’s internal affairs, the envoy said, adding that Beijing resolutely opposes interference by any foreign government, institution or individual.

Paul Dewar, vice chairman of the Canadian parliamentary panel, said a letter of this kind was the first since he became a committee member in 2007.

It is unprecedented that a foreign country should tell Canadian Congress as to what to do with its hearings, he said.

All the members agreed to go ahead with the hearing despite the objections by the Chinese envoy, he said, adding that Beijing should not see the hearing as a provocative or unfriendly move.

David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China, said Canada and Hong Kong share a unique emotional bond as Canadian soldiers had sacrificed their lives for the city during the World War.

Canada is morally obliged to stand by its friend, he said.

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