The Magna Carta went on public display in Hong Kong Wednesday, after changes in venue sparked controversy during the mainland Chinese leg of the historic document’s worldwide tour.
The charter — widely seen as the foundation of rule of law in the West — was withdrawn twice from public venues in the mainland and switched to British diplomatic premises to which ordinary Chinese citizens have limited access.
“We were really delighted that thousands of people in mainland China came to see Magna Carta,” Caroline Wilson, Britain’s consul general for Hong Kong, was quoted by AFP as saying.
Wilson said nearly 20,000 people came to see the ancient document in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, describing it as “an excellent result”.
The concepts in the English charter also contributed to legal systems around the world, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the US constitution.
But the ideas enshrined in the Magna Carta — which means “Great Charter” — are a sensitive topic in China, where the Communist Party maintains control over the legal system.
The document on display is one of just four existing specimens of the charter and is on a world tour to mark the 800th anniversary of its signing by England’s King John on July 15, 1215.
It is on show at auction house Sotheby’s gallery in Hong Kong until Saturday.
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