Reportage: Hart comments on Hong Kong politics at Independence Day reception

American Consul General Clifford A. Hart hosted the Independence Day celebration in Hong Kong and commented on local politics.

(Photo credit: Provided)


The U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau celebrated 4th of July early this year. On June 30, the consulate held an Independence Day reception, for the second time hosted by Consul General Clifford A. Hart, who arrived in town July 30, 2013.

Hart’s address highlighted American presence in Asia since WWII:

“The end of WWII showcased the resilience of the Asian peoples and the importance of America’s commitment to the region,” he says, “Had the United States shirked its responsibilities after V-J Day, it is difficult to imagine that Asia as a whole—or the Mainland or Hong Kong in particular—would have reached today’s peace and prosperity.”

America’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific, part of President Obama’s so-called ‘pivot to Asia’, was brought into focus.

“Our rebalance in the Asia-Pacific today is merely the latest reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to a vast region that is home and that it therefore cannot leave,” he says.

He also commented on the recent developments in Hong Kong politics and noted the LegCo veto on the reform package:

“The preceding debate revealed sharply divergent perspectives,” he says, “Following LegCo’s decision, politics in Hong Kong are, frankly, a little raw.”

Hart drew from America’s experience on dealing with controversial issues:

“These decisions are a reminder to observers at home and abroad not to mistake debate—even prolonged, heated, and halting debate—necessarily as signs of dysfunctionality or failure,” he says, “In fact, on important issues, public debate is the indispensable means by which open societies work toward agreement on their greatest challenges.

The United States supports “universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law and the aspirations of the Hong Kong people”. He encourages Hong Kong people to sort out their issues in a civilised and patient manner:

“For now, as Hong Kong takes its breath, as a friend, I would merely urge local friends of all perspectives to fall back on their hallmark civility, forbearance, and patience in dealing with one another as they address the myriad challenges of governance before them,” he says.

Erratum: HT previously reported that Hart arrived in Hong Kong on July 30 last year. In fact, he was inaugurated July 30, 2013 and this is his second time hosting an Independence Day reception. HT regrets the error.