Citing sources within the Chinese foreign affairs ministry, the Apple Daily has reported that China and Britain are working on a document that will show that London approves of Hong Kong’s post-colonial development. It is said to be part of trade deals, totalling US$30 billion, which are currently being thrashed out in by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
However, local democracy icon founder Martin Lee has warned that such attempts to attach business deals to Hong Kong amounts to ‘selling out its people’.
The Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, said that over 40 agreements will be signed covering sectors such as energy, finance and technology.
The deals come days after Beijing’s controversial white paper on Hong Kong was published – it emphasised the ‘One Country’ part of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ agreement. Britain’s handover of the city in 1997 was agreed upon with China in their 1984 Joint-Declaration.
The British consul to Hong Kong said the white paper was ‘welcomed’…
However, this morning, former Chief Secretary Anson Chan told RTHK that Britain has a “legal and moral obligation” to speak up on the matter and defend Hong Kong’s part of the international agreement. She said Hong Konger’s rights were constantly being eroded and the White Paper interferes with the city’s independent judiciary…
Meanwhile, Bao Tong, ex-aide to reformist Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang, has said the white paper is tantamount to degrading Hong Kong to the status of a local government under Beijing. He stated that it was affront to the Joint-agreement and is “effectively saying ‘one country, two systems’ is merely a joke”.
Pro-democracy organiser Benny Tai was asked by the blog, last month, whether he believes Britain should have more of a role in the debate over Hong Kong’s status (full interview here). Tai is the convenor of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement, which plans a mass ‘sit in’ should Beijing fail to allow meaningful universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Also this week, the Deputy British Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated that China’s people are “politically shackled” to a communist one-party state which disrespects human rights. Downing Street distanced itself from the comments whilst Conservative Party business minister Michael Fallon said that human rights should not interfere with business deals.
Last week, ten demonstrators gathered at the UK consulate, calling for Britain to take back its former colony.