China has told Britain and the US to mind their own business over its refusal to allow full democracy for Hong Kong in the near future.
“We are Chinese,” Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in Shanghai today after London and Washington criticised Beijing for blocking political reform.
“Are you clear on that? Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong,” he said at a press conference.
Li added: “Do you think Hong Kong was democratic under British rule? Did the British raise concerns about that? Did the Americans raise concerns? No. Why don’t you take a look at this double standard?”
The Chinese mainland’s most powerful legislative panel told Hong Kong citizens in a ruling on Monday that they cannot democratically choose a successor to unpopular Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in 2007.
Beijing also said Hong Kong will be allowed to directly elect only some, and not all, its lawmakers in 2008.
Many Hong Kongers, who want a fully democratic political system for the territory, have responded with a mix of defiance and resignation.
Student activists burned a copy of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Pro-democracy lawmakers chanted slogans and unfurled a banner before storming out of a meeting with a top mainland legislative official.
The Standard newspaper today lamented “a sad day for China”.
“Yesterday’s ruling from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress that there will be no democracy for Hong Kong was bad enough,” The Standard wrote in an editorial.
“The way it was delivered showed contempt for Hong Kong’s people. Tragically, the ruling also mocks China’s desire to be one of the world’s trusted leading nations.”
Critics say the decision violates China’s agreement to grant Hong Kong a great deal of autonomy after the former British colony was handed back in July 1997.
Beijing said full democracy remains a goal for Hong Kong, but that a quick shift to universal suffrage poses too many risks of social and economic instability.
The US State Department disagreed, saying international confidence in Hong Kong was based on its rule of law and a high degree of autonomy.
“We’re disappointed by the decision, as we believe it doesn’t adequately reflect the expressed wishes of the Hong Kong people for universal suffrage and democracy,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.
Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said in London that Beijing had acted inconsistently with its handover promises.