Chris Patten slammed for ‘absurd’ comments


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Chris Patten slammed for ‘absurd’ comments


Source: Global Times    Published: 2019-7-7

Hong Kong police are collecting evidence from the LegCo Complex of Hong Kong which was stormed and ransacked by violent protestors on July 1.Photo: Chen Qingqing and Yang Sheng/GT

Officials from the Chinese central government have strongly condemned former governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten for "absurd" and "shameless" comments on the city's situation and urged him to stop telling blatant lies or putting on ridiculous performances.

The principal official at the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry of China in Hong Kong has refuted the unwarranted comments by Chris Patten in the Financial Times and urged Patten to respect the facts and know his place.

Since the return of Hong Kong to its motherland 22 years ago, China's central government, in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, has firmly implemented the principles of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong," and ensured a high degree of autonomy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the official noted in a statement published on the ministry's website on Saturday.

Hong Kong people, "second-class citizens" during the colonial period, have stood up as their own masters with unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms in accordance with law, it said.

Rather than repenting for his failure to ensure democracy and freedom in Hong Kong during his rule, Patten has instead alleged that the city lacks democracy and freedom after its return, picturing himself as a "guardian" of human rights and freedoms there, the official said, slamming Patten for being "shameless" and "absurd."

According to the statement, Hong Kong has maintained its prosperity and stability, with its international influence and competitiveness significantly improved.

Hong Kong now has an economy twice the size that of 1997, ranking the world's freest for more than 20 consecutive years. Hong Kong ranked 16th for its rule of law in 2018, while it ranked below 60th in 1996.

The official criticized Patten's remarks for reflecting sheer "double standards," a complete lack of morals and raised four questions: Did the colonists bring any democracy? Did Hong Kong people back then enjoy any freedoms? Did the people have the right to independently elect their leaders and legislators? Was Mr. Patten, last governor of Hong Kong, democratically elected?

Chinese net users widely offered support for the questions. Some said they would hold a mirror to Patten for him to reflect upon about who he is, what he is trying to do and in what position he made those indiscreet remarks.

"Hong Kong is a part of China. To this fallen politician who cannot see his position clearly, we don't need to be polite," was one comment widely circulated on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform.

Another said "only Hong Kong separatists care about him who now has little or no influence in British politics. The foreign ministry could directly point out the truth: He is just a poor man that nobody cares about."

No right to interfere

It is not the first time Patten has interfered in Hong Kong's affairs. On June 6, he said the proposed extradition bill would undermine Hong Kong's reputation as a global financial hub.

John Ross, former director of economic and business policy of London and a senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the "one country, two systems" policy allowed Hong Kong people to elect their own chief executives, which is much more democratic than when Britain ruled Hong Kong.

"However, ironically, Patten, whose appointment was a result of the non-democratic system, has written hypocritical articles from time to time to attack this much more democratic system but never explains why Hong Kong people were not allowed to elect their leaders during the British ruled period," Ross told the Global Times on Sunday.

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tried to interfere, urging authorities in Hong Kong not to use protests as a pretext for repression.

Chinese mainland commentators said Hunt's remarks sounded like he was telling radical protesters that the UK would stand with them and encouraging their vandalism.

After Hong Kong returned to China, whenever there is an issue in the region, some people in the UK would put on a just face and comment on Hong Kong affairs. It seems they had forgotten the ugly history of UK's violent invasion of China and colonization of Hong Kong, Ross said, stressing that the British government had no right to intervene in Hong Kong affairs.

Stop false accusations

Patten's words have also been condemned and rejected by some Hong Kong compatriots. Some slammed Western media for biased reporting.

Hong Kong residents such as bank employees, cargo drivers and social workers interviewed by the Global Times insisted that the Hong Kong protests were China's internal affair and countries like the UK or the US should not intervene.

"The young generation never had a chance of living under Western colonization. They have this illusion that they could have better life under the rule of the West, how they know that's true?" a social worker surnamed Ching said.

The elderly generation said they felt heartbroken to see some young people raise the colonial flag at LegCo and during the protest.

"We are Hong Kong people and we are Chinese. That's our bottom line," a retired bank employee surnamed Lee said.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands of Hongkongers, mostly in black t-shirts, gathered at Salisbury Garden, a public space between the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Space Museum.

They marched from there through the busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping area and blocked public transport. The demonstration ended at West Kowloon railway station, partially locked down by the police for security reasons.

Timothy Chui, executive director of Hong Kong Tourism Association, told the Global Times on Sunday that those areas are frequented by tourists from the Chinese mainland, and a series of protests in Hong Kong lately has severely weighed upon Hong Kong tourism.

"The tourism sector accounts for about 18 percent of the city's total GDP, creating many grass-roots jobs in Hong Kong society. After this year's social turbulence, overall economic growth will be affected and will slow down," he said.

Chinese mainland net users posted comments suggesting that Hong Kong separatists would rather be slaves of colonists than decent Chinese people.

"China has gone from being bullied to one of the most powerful countries in the world, yet their mentality remained one of the weakest," read one such comment.

Chinese experts warned that British politicians should stop making ridiculous remarks and actions interfering in Hong Kong affairs, saying they would only damage the cherished relationship between China and the UK.

John Ross is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.