25 February 1997
Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee Calls 9-City European Tour "Very
Successful"; Europeans Concerned About the Future of Democratic Institutions
Martin Lee returned this afternoon from a 9-city European trip to discuss
the future of Hong Kong. On his visit (at the invitation of the Council
of Europe and the European Parliament, and also individual invitations
from Norwegian, Swedish and other parliaments in Europe) the democratic
leader met and addressed over 300 European parliamentarians. He also spoke
to think tanks, overseas Chinese groups, business leaders, the press and
top government officials to detail the latest developments in Hong Kong
and the prospects for freedom, human rights and democratic institutions
after the handover.
In all of the countries he visited, Martin Lee saw both government and
opposition leaders, as well as members of all of the major political groups
in Europe, including the European People's Party, the Liberal Democrats
and Reformers Group, the Socialists and the Radicals. He was received by
numerous Cabinet ministers, including the Foreign Ministers from Belgium,
Norway and the UK, by the Justice Minister in France, and by Trade Ministers
and State Secretaries in several other countries. Martin Lee also addressed
the Foreign Affairs Committees of the European Parliament, the Belgian
Parliament, the German Parliament, the French National Assembly, the Norwegian
Parliament, the Swedish Parliament and the Italian Senate.
"My simple message to Europe was that the world community has an
interest and a stake in ensuring Hong Kong stays free.
The officials, parliamentarians and business leaders I saw in Europe
all expressed great concern about the latest developments in Hong Kong
-- particularly the setting up and operation of the appointed "provisional
legislature" in China and the roll-back of the Bill of Rights and
legal protections for human rights. Without exception, all of the individuals
and groups I saw were well aware of the recent developments in Hong Kong
and profoundly concerned about the future of freedoms and the rule of law.
In all of the European countries I visited -- and especially at the Council
of Europe and the European Parliament -- parliamentarians and officials
stated they would support Hong Kong during the transition period and after.
Hong Kong is an international city. And the international community
is clearly concerned about the future of democratic institutions and freedoms
in Hong Kong. European countries strongly supported the Joint Declaration
at China and Britain's request when it was announced in 1984. Now that
the Joint Declaration is being breached, these countries are naturally
taking an interest in what is happening. And of course many of the European
countries also have significant business and economic interests in Hong
Kong and China and are concerned that Hong Kong retains our free flow of
information, rule of law and level playing field.
As elected representatives, we owe a duty to the Hong Kong people to
speak up and to do everything we can defend Hong Kong's freedom and rule
of law. This the Democratic Party will continue to do -- both in Hong Kong
I look forward to meeting again soon with our future Chief Executive,
Mr. C.H. Tung, in order to convey to him the concerns expressed by the
European countries I have visited."