LETTER: Hong Kong's road to democracy

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The Independent Online
From Sir David Ford

Sir: Neville Maxwell's letter (21 August) giving his account of recent political developments in Hong Kong is wide of the mark.

First, it was not possible to introduce a more democratic system of government in Hong Kong before 1984, because the Chinese had made it clear that to do so would be tantamount to the establishment of a third China and would put Hong Kong's future at risk.

Second, the Joint Declaration, signed in 1984, established a framework within which a democratic system could develop, but it did not lay down detailed arrangements for the elections that were to be held before 1997.

Third, it is wrong to suggest that there was no consultation with China about these electoral arrangements. There were more than 180 hours of discussions with the Chinese on this subject. Unfortunately, it was not possible to reach agreement on electoral arrangements which were fair, open and acceptable to the people of Hong Kong. As a result, the Hong Kong Government had no alternative but to put forward legislation to ensure that the elections could be held, as planned, in 1995. This law was passed by Hong Kong's Legislative Council last year and elections are going ahead. Incidentally, many candidates who are close to the Chinese government are taking part.

Yours faithfully,

David Ford

Hong Kong Commissioner

Hong Kong Government Office

London, W1