HK pro-democracy activists fail to meet top US officials

Veteran Chinese democracy advocate Martin Lee and student leader Joshua Wong pose together in New York on Sept 22, 2015.
Veteran Chinese democracy advocate Martin Lee and student leader Joshua Wong pose together in New York on Sept 22, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Two Hong Kong pro- democracy activists visiting the United States have failed to secure top White House meetings as they seek to pressure Beijing to honour governance agreements.

Veteran democracy advocate Martin Lee, 77, and student leader Joshua Wong, 18, are using the one-year anniversary of the mass democracy protests in Hong Kong to get Washington to push visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping on democratic reform.

But their attempts to meet top US officials failed, Dr Lee said. "The world ought to really sit up, with China's influence increasing by the day. Hong Kong really should be used as the focal point and as a test of Xi Jinping's avowed intentions of being a reformer."

Last year's "Umbrella Movement" protests sought full democracy in the former British colony rather than the creeping dominance of mainland China, the two said.

"(Dr Lee) is the most optimistic (man in Hong Kong) and I'm preparing for the worst," said Wong, who is due in court on Oct 26 to face charges of incitement, contempt of court and obstruction of police.

"In this moment, we cannot see any evidence that Xi Jinping will really motivate mainland China to have better human rights, so it's really a long road for our generation," the second-year university student added.

Freedom House, a rights advocacy group, is honouring the two men and a third activist, Mr Benny Tai, at a gala in Washington later today to mark its 75th anniversary.

The event coincides with a White House state dinner that President Barack Obama is hosting for Mr Xi.

Dr Lee said Mr Obama should use the occasion to remind China of its Hong Kong pledges.

"If China doesn't deliver on democracy on Hong Kong, then your President ought to know that any agreement that he might enter into with Xi Jinping could end up the same way," he said.

REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'HK pro-democracy activists fail to meet top US officials'. Print Edition | Subscribe