3 July 1998

Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee Sits Down With US President Bill Clinton

Martin Lee today had his second meeting with US President Clinton, on the last day of the President’s visit to China.  The meeting – which followed the President's keynote address in the morning – was attended as well by Secretary of State Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

In the meeting, which lasted more than 20 minutes, Martin Lee and President Clinton discussed the importance of democracy and the rule of law in Hong Kong, China and Asia.  Martin Lee said that he was heartened by the President’s speech this morning, in which the President said that the May elections indicted Hong Kong people want "more democracy not less."

Following the meeting, Martin Lee commented:

"I thanked the President for coming to China and for meeting with democratically-elected leaders here, who represent the people of Hong Kong.  We discussed the meaning of Hong Kong's first democratic elections under Chinese rule and that Hong Kong people had turned out in torrential rain to make their democratic aspirations known.  I told the Prescient that his visit to Hong Kong was an important sign of support for Hong Kong people, thanked him for his speech today and for his strong acknowledgement that Hong Kong people want democracy.  I also thanked the President for renewing MFN, which will help Hong Kong in these economically trying times.

We discussed at length the link between economic prosperity and a credible, transparent system underpinned by democratic elections.  I noted that freedom comes as a whole – that you cannot separate economic and political freedom and expect economic prosperity to last.  I noted that although the region was hard hit by the economic crisis, it was my hope that there would be a silver lining: namely that the Asian people would recognise the need for democracy and the rule of law.  Only then could Asia emerge from the crisis with a firm foundation on which to build in the future.

In sum, the President's trip is a good first step.  The door in China has been opened a bit, but we in Hong Kong want to see the door open wider.  We hope to see concrete results of Mr. Clinton's visit – a faster pace of reform in terms of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.  We hope that Chinese leaders will look at the example of Hong Kong and see that there is nothing to dear from democratic elections or indeed, democratically-elected leaders."


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