Hong Kong Legislator Urges U.S. to Press China on Human Rights
Mary McGrory Copyright Universal Press Syndicate, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Enter the dragon into Hong Kong on July 1. What to do? Nobody is quite sure. The British signed an accord with the Chinese in 1989 whereby Hong Kong's human rights and political freedom would be guaranteed after the takeover. But the dragon, breathing fire, has already trashed it.
A spirited exception to the universal hand-wringing came to town this past week, Hong Kong's only elected female legislator and most popular politician, Emily Lau.
She went to the White House, to the State Department and to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus to exhort the United States to tell China that we feel strongly about the preservation of democracy in Hong Kong. She had a concrete suggestion: Let Vice President Al Gore postpone his March visit to Beijing until the Chinese have given guarantees that they will reverse the repression they have already instigated - like dissolving the legislature and replacing it with a sham hand-picked body and warning that criticism of the incoming government will be forbidden. There is, of course, fat chance that Gore will pay the slightest attention to such a plea. The Clinton administration dotes on Beijing, or at least on trade with China. Not only did the president grant it most-favored-nation trade status, he received the official who ran the Tiananmen Square massacre with full military honors at the Pentagon. Asked at his recent news conference how we would take a Chinese clamp-down on Hong Kong's civil liberties, he said lamely, "Well, it wouldn't help anything." Lau, an erstwhile broadcast journalist, knows of the president's answer and his attitude but asks where else she can turn. Asians and Europeans are also nurturing their trade relations. The British won't take in any more residents of their former crown colony than the 50,000 rich and well-educated to whom they gave citizenship after Tiananmen Square in 1989. …