Magazine article Newsweek

A Message for Beijing: Washington Commits to Democracy in Hong Kong

Magazine article Newsweek

A Message for Beijing: Washington Commits to Democracy in Hong Kong

Article excerpt

HIS DETRACTORS CALL HIM "MARTYR Lee." There's something awfully righteous, even spinsterish, about Martin Lee, the leading democratic activist in Hong Kong. But in a meeting last week with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the normally straitlaced lawyer displayed a flash of rare passion. When Albright asked him if she should attend the July 1 ceremony marking Hong Kong's handover from Britain to China, Lee responded unhesitatingly. "You must come... You must be there publicly, to show the Chinese your commitment to Hong Kong." That clinched it. "We consulted very quickly," a senior State Department official said later. "We didn't want to spend a month with every different interest group on China policy." At a speech the next day at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Albright announced she'd be there "to underline American support for the continuation of Hong Kong's current way of life."

Technically, nothing changed in America's policy toward Hong Kong last week. But Lee's visit to Washington, which included a half-hour chat with President Bill Clinton at the White House, may be remembered as the moment that the United States threw itself squarely--and very publicly--behind Hong Kong democracy. Lee and Clinton agreed that China's takeover of Hong Kong is an international issue. Beijing, of course, views Hong Kong as a domestic matter--and wants the world to butt out. Thc Clinton administration is hoping its public support for Hong Kong democracy won't mean an inevitable collision with Beijing over human rights. But since China has already announced plans to abolish Hong Kong's legislature, and the new local government wants to restrict street demonstrations, it's hard to see how such confrontations can be avoided. "They've got all the buttons in Beijing to enable them to control Hong Kong," Lee told NEWSWEEK. "And we can only hope that they won't press these buttons. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.