Anson Chan Says U.K. Silence on Hong Kong Conspicuous

Anson Chan, the highest-ranking civil servant under the last British governor of Hong Kong, said some Hong Kong people view the U.K. as having failed to speak out over China’s handling of its former colony.

At least 500,000 people marked the anniversary of the handover yesterday by marching through Hong Kong to protest China’s insistence that it vet candidates for the chief executive election in 2017, and three weeks after it released a white paper that ratcheted tensions with its assertion that the city’s right to autonomy wasn’t inherent.

The U.K. was “conspicuous by its silence” when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited last month, days after the release of the white paper, Chan, Hong Kong’s top civil servant in the final years of the colonial government and the first four under Chinese rule, told Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television’s “First Up.”

BP Plc signed a $20 billion deal to supply liquefied natural gas to China National Offshore Oil Corp., one of a number of contracts announced during Li’s U.K. visit.

“We see how money in Great Britain talks, said Chan. ‘‘Did we hear the British government say a word about China’s refusal to honor the promises in the joint declaration? No.’’

‘‘Yesterday on the march a few people came up to me and said how disappointed they were and how angry they were at being sold out by Great Britain,’’ she said.

The white paper on Hong Kong released by China’s State Council said the source of the city’s autonomy is the Beijing central government. The document stipulated that the city must have patriotic leaders and judges who put China’s interests first.

Chan, 74, said the document undermined the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, the island’s de-facto constitution, that was developed through negotiations between China and the U.K.

The entire international community should take note of China’s attempts to reinterpret the treaty.

If China ‘‘chooses to walk away from these promises, what does this say about China’s commitment to the international treaty obligations they have with all other countries?”

(Corrects headline and first paragraph of story published July 2 to clarify comments by Anson Chan.)
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