|US envoy Hart says people free to choose their democratic system, steers clear of offering formula
Washington's representative in Hong Kong said today the United States supports universal suffrage in the city but that it will not have a say on how one person one vote is achieved. The envoy added however, that the people's voices must be heard.
US Consul-General Clifford Hart made the comments today in his first public remarks since arriving in Hong Kong in July.
He was addressing an American Chamber of Commerce audience at the Conrad Hong Kong.
His remarks come a few weeks after Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said universal suffrage was the ultimate aim of the political system development in Hong Kong.
Hart also underlined US support for the 'One Country, Two Systems' concept, adding that "US support extends to both halves of that formula.''
Hart said the US "will always stand for our core democratic values.''
"We have no prescription for Hong Kong's electoral process. One of the fundamental precepts of democracy is that the people themselves have a full say in how their systems work. Democracy adapts itself across societies. Far from expecting that everyone out there will copy our system in all its particulars, the United States is on record as enthusiastically supporting the wide range of credible democratic systems that free peoples of the world have established to meet their needs.
"The United States therefore does not take a position for or against any particular electoral formulation on how genuine universal suffrage is achieved. As the world's oldest constitutional democracy, we will always advocate the fundamental principles that underlie every successful democracy -- open dialogue and debate; a strong and independent free press; an independent judiciary; the rule of law; free and fair elections; and choice among candidates. On the details of how that is implemented in Hong Kong, however, we of course defer to the people of Hong Kong; their elected representatives and political parties; civil society; the SAR Government; and the Central Government.''
Earlier this month, Zhang told a Hong Kong delegation that the development of Hong Kong's political system must comply with the principles of `One country, two systems,' `Hong Kong People governing Hong Kong,'and a high degree of autonomy.--The Standard