18 April 1997

White House Meetings for Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee and Legislator Andrew Cheng; US President and Vice President Back Hong Kong Freedoms

Flying to Washington DC from Ottawa in the morning, Martin Lee and Andrew Cheng today met with US President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at 11:30 (US time) on Friday, April 18. Martin Lee and Andrew Cheng met for 25 minutes initially with Vice President Gore and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. The Vice President said that Hong Kong was at the top of the list of issues of concern to the US and explained that he had raised Hong Kong strongly with Chinese leaders, particularly the link between economic prosperity and the political and legal system that supports it.

President Clinton met with the democratic leaders for a further 25 minutes. The President said he had been to Hong Kong several times and had great admiration for the society and its way of life. Martin Lee explained that recent developments in Hong Kong, including the establishment of an appointed legislature and the repeal of human rights protection laws. He said that the 1984 Joint Declaration was a UN-registered treaty and that thus the world had an obligation to ensure all its provisions -- including the guarantees of an elected legislature, independent judiciary and civil liberties -- were carried out, adding that China's adherence to its own promises on Hong Kong would be the acid test for China's future role in Asia and, indeed, in its relations with the US and the world community.

As he did in yesterday's meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Martin Lee asked the President to see Hong Kong's Chief Executive designate, Mr. C.H. Tung, when he came to the US, as a way of bolstering Hong Kong's autonomy and future confidence in Hong Kong. The President and the Vice President separately stated how much they appreciated Martin's support for MFN renewal.

Commenting after the White House meeting, Martin Lee said:

"Our meeting was warm and successful. We covered a range of topics and I found both the President and Vice President to be knowledgeable and concerned about the future of basic freedoms, the rule of law and democratic institutions. I believe this meeting sends the important message that the US cares about the fate of Hong Kong's 6.3 million people and that the US has great concern about recent developments in Hong Kong. Having talked with the President and Vice President, I believe they understand what is at stake in Hong Kong and that should Hong Kong lose our freedoms, not only will Hong Kong people suffer, but it will have a profoundly negative effect on future progress in China itself."

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