China condemns former HK governor Patten's remarks

The official reminded former British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten that Hong Kong had no democracy at all during 159 years of colonial rule by the British.
The official reminded former British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten that Hong Kong had no democracy at all during 159 years of colonial rule by the British. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • A senior Chinese official in Hong Kong has condemned Mr Chris Patten, former British governor of the territory, over "absurd" remarks on the Hong Kong situation, and urged him to respect the facts and stop "lying and misbehaving".

"Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the Chinese central government has always acted in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, and unswervingly implemented the 'one country, two systems' principle (of) Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong," the official in charge of the Office of the Commissioner of China's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on the office's website, the China Daily reported yesterday.

Hong Kong has maintained its prosperity and stability, and its international influence and competitiveness have improved greatly, the official said.

According to the statement, Hong Kong has doubled its total economic output since its return, has been ranked among the world's freest economies for more than 20 years and its global ranking of rule of law has jumped from below 60th in 1996 to 16th last year.

Mr Patten could not deny the fact that Hong Kong people have changed from "second class" in the colonial period and are now enjoying democratic rights and freedoms according to law that were not available in the colonial period, the China Daily reported, quoting from the official's statement.

The official said Hong Kong had no democracy during more than 150 years of colonial rule by the British.

Last week, Mr Patten told the BBC that Britain should do more to stand up to China. "We should take a much firmer line... we are honour bound to stand up for freedom in Hong Kong, the freedoms we promised people for years."

 
 
 

In an opinion piece for the Financial Times last Friday, he said the 1984 Joint Declaration treaty Britain signed with China guaranteed a high degree of local autonomy and the survival of its freedom under the rule of law for 50 years after the handover in 1997.

Mr Patten said the British government should make clear "that there would be serious consequences if the international and binding legal agreement with China were not to be honoured".

The Chinese official questioned if Hong Kong people ever had the right to elect leaders and legislatures independently during the colonial period and if Mr Patten, as the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, was elected democratically.

The statement said it was shameless and absurd that the last colonial governor of Hong Kong criticised the lack of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong after the territory's return to China on July 1, 1997, instead of reflecting on the undemocratic and non-liberal conditions of his own rule over Hong Kong, and took himself as the "guardian" of Hong Kong's human rights and freedoms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'China condemns former HK governor Patten's remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe