HONG KONG: Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong hit back on Friday at former colonial ruler Britain over a report they said showed no “commitment” to the city and strived to avoid embarrassing Beijing.
The six-monthly parliamentary report on Hong Kong comes as tensions rise over what is seen as increasing interference from China and Beijing’s insistence that it vet candidates for the city’s next chief executive in 2017.
In a foreword to the report, released on Thursday, British foreign secretary William Hague said the city’s “unique constitutional framework has worked well” and that there was no “perfect model” for electoral reform.
“The important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice and feel that they have a real stake in the outcome,” he said.
But pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong condemned the report.
“It contains a lot of waffling without any commitment to help,” Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo told Agence France-Presse.
“I think that the UK government is taking economic considerations much more seriously than political differences,” she added.
Britain and China signed trade deals worth more than $24 billion in June, during a visit to London by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Concerns are growing that the freedoms Hong Kong was guaranteed under the “One Country, Two Systems” deal when the city was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 are being eroded.
Fears heightened in June when Beijing published a controversial “white paper” on Hong Kong’s future, widely seen as a warning to the city not to overstep its bounds.
Hague said that, while “some commentators” had voiced concerns over the threat by the white paper to Hong Kong’s autonomy, “I note that both the Central People’s Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have been explicit that the paper did not mark a change in policy.”
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau said the UK “should be condemned” after not standing firm against the white paper, the South China Morning Post reported.