Former public officials in Hong Kong have been lobbying the United Kingdom and the international community overall to stand up for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, where students and activists are pressing Beijing for the right to elect their chief executive in 2017. But there’s little that the U.K. is likely or willing to do. Thirty years ago, the British agreed to hand over Hong Kong, one of its last colonies, to Beijing under an international treaty known as the Joint Declaration. It “guaranteed Hong Kong’s way of life for 50 years” under the idea of “one country, two systems,” meaning that Hong Kongers would live under the rule of law, with freedom of speech, assembly, and worship, elections and a “high degree of autonomy.” Now, many feel that those freedoms are quickly being erased. Over the next month, Beijing is expected to release guidelines for elections that will allow it to influence Hong Kong’s slate of candidates, effectively limiting the right to full suffrage.
China insists that the debate over universal suffrage is an internal one, and denounces what it calls foreign meddling by outside governments. Even if the U.K. wanted to pressure Beijing, the options for legally requiring China to uphold its treaty are few, according to Lorenz Langer, a lecturer at the University of Zurich who researches constitutional development in Hong Kong. “The more powerful China gets, the less [the international community] can do,” Langer said. “The Joint Declaration may be binding, but it’s not going to be enforced against China’s will by anyone right now.”
Full Article: Why Hong Kong’s Voting Rights Could Be in Danger – CityLab.