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Why Democracy in Hong Kong Matters
The National Endowment for Democracy will host a talk discussing the importance of democracy in Hong Kong
Beijing's recent pronouncements that only "patriotic" Hong Kong people can stand for chief executive, coupled with violent attacks on the media, have raised concerns about basic rights and freedoms in the territory of 7 million people. With the 2017 and 2020 elections on the horizon, recent developments do not bode well for the preservation of Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms - not to mention the economy, which relies on transparency and the rule of law. Martin Lee and Anson Chan, two veteran political leaders known and respected for their decades of service in Hong Kong's legislature and government, will outline the growing threats to democracy in Hong Kong and what can be done to defend rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
About the Speakers
Martin Lee is a top barrister, longtime democracy advocate, and the founding chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong. He served in the Legislative Council from 1985 to 2008. Lee has been among the highest-profile defenders of Hong Kong's freedoms, rule of law and way of life, arguing that without a democratic system to underpin the rule of law, Hong Kong will not continue as a free society and as a model for China's future development. In a recent New York Times op-ed titled "Hong Kong's Shaky Democratic Future," he warned that "our autonomy and the rule of law it buttresses are under threat from the mainland central government," and called on Beijing to end the dangerous escalation of press threats in Hong Kong. Martin Lee was a 1997 recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy's Democracy Award.
Anson Chan was Hong Kong's Chief Secretary, the head of the civil service under British rule, and after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997, continued to hold the post under Chinese rule. The first ethnic Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong, Chan has often been described as Hong Kong's "Iron Lady," and is regarded as one of the most powerful women in Asia. After her executive branch service, she was elected to the Legislative Council and served 2007-2008. In 2013, she helped launch the Hong Kong 2020 campaign, which advocates for constitutional changes in order to achieve "full universal suffrage for election of the Chief Executive in 2017 and all members of the Legislative Council by 2020."
Louisa Greve is Vice President for Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Global Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she previously served as Director for East Asia, Senior Program Officer, and Program Officer. She has studied, worked, and travelled in Asia since 1980 and has testified before Congressional committees on human rights in China and democracy promotion in Asia. She was a member of the AEI/Armitage International Taiwan Policy Working Group (2007) and the Council on Foreign Relations Term Member Roundtable on U.S. National Security - New Threats in a Changing World (2002).
Professor Teresa Wright looks at how, when, and why Chinese individuals and groups have engaged in protests and how the targets of their complaints have responded; thus shedding light on the stability of China’s existing political system and its likely future trajectory.