Britain betrays Hong Kong… again

This article was originally published on Fair Observer.

In a September 4 statement, Britain “welcome[d]” China’s commitment to universal suffrage, and merely noted that the restrictions imposed by Beijing on candidate nominations in Hong Kong — which profoundly undermine whether elections are democratic — will “disappoint” some. If, as the United Kingdom claimed, “the important thing is that the people of Hong Kong have a genuine choice,” it ought to have unequivocally condemned Beijing’s strategy.

On August 31, China’s legislature laid down a strict process for Hong Kong’s top office, ruling out open nominations. Under this system, only those favored by Beijing can be chosen as candidates for Hong Kong’s top office. The move shatters the dream of democracy for most people in Hong Kong, who have long shown their strong desire for the right to choose their own leader. These views have been made abundantly clear in public opinion polls and annual pro-democracy demonstrations; this year, half a million people took to the streets.

Prior to Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, many warned about the slow erosion of Hong Kong’s civil liberties, although Britain often failed to sound the alarm.

But “welcoming” Beijing’s decision is a bridge too far, and one that no self-respecting citizen of a democracy should cross. In a March 2013 interview, Chancellor George Osborne said he wanted China to “look to the UK as a home you can base some of your activities in.” Does that mean he would welcome the Chinese Communist Party to dictate who he can vote for? Most probably not.

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This article was originally published on Fair Observer.

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