The United States has long supported universal suffrage and the aspirations of the Hong Kong people under the “One Country Two Systems” model, and continues to express that support to Beijing.
In recent testimony before Congress, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel noted that the “One Country, Two Systems” framework was put forward by Deng Xiaoping and is reflected in China’s constitution. “It means, among other things,” Mr. Russel said, “that China accepts that the Hong Kong government will retain its own legislative and judicial powers, as well as its own laws.” Assistant Secretary Russel emphasized that an open society with a high degree of autonomy and respect for the rule of law is what made Hong Kong such a successful and global city.
“As we do around the world,” he said, “the United States advocates in China for internationally recognized fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
Over the past two months, protests took place in Hong Kong after China set forth strict guidelines for the nomination and selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017. Assistant Secretary Russel said that the legitimacy of Hong Kong’s chief executive “will be greatly enhanced if the promise of universal suffrage is fulfilled” and a “competitive election” is allowed “in which a range of candidates with differing policy approaches are given an opportunity to seek the support of eligible Hong Kong voters.”
Mr. Russel expressed concern at signs that China’s commitment to the “One Country, Two Systems” framework is deteriorating. He noted a steady downward trend in media freedom in Hong Kong, and said “the ability of Hong Kong’s judiciary system to remain independent in the long term will be another critical indicator of China’s commitment to the unique “One Country, Two Systems” model.
The United States urges the People’s Republic of China to uphold its commitments to preserve Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy. “We encourage Beijing, the Hong Kong government and the people of Hong Kong to work together,” Assistant Secretary Russel said, “to advance Hong Kong’s universal democratic development, establish universal suffrage by 2017, and preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy and its free and open society.”