Local media newspaper Oriental Daily has slammed pan-democrats for “actively inviting foreign forces to intervene in affairs,” after four lawmakers brought up the recent controversy surrounding the University of Hong Kong (HKU) during a meeting with a delegation of US Democratic Party House of Representatives members on Sunday.

The delegation, led by the US Democratic Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi, met with a conglomeration of local lawmakers and politicians during the Hong Kong leg of their China trip. These included Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Liberal Party Honorary Chair James Tien, former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong, and co-founder of the pro-democracy Occupy protests Professor Benny Tai.

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CY Leung meeting with Pelosi and the delegation. Photo: CY Leung via Facebook.

The group also spoke to Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit, and The Professional Commons founder Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong for around an hour at the Island Shangri-la hotel. During the meeting, Leong raised many of the issues Hong Kong is currently facing, such as the failure of the Central Government to implement universal suffrage as promised under the Basic Law. He also said that the pan-democrats had been working hard to defend Hong Kong’s existing values and systems, but nothing much had changed and he hoped Pelosi would make China aware of the situation.

Cyd Ho said that the US should not give up on the opportunity to speak for Hong Kong in the face of business deals with China. Emily Lau said that Leung Chun-ying was dividing the city, and that the Central Government was increasingly interfering in Hong Kong affairs. She also said she hoped the US would remind China to live up to its promise under the Basic Law, which guarantees that Hong Kong people would be governing themselves and enjoying a high degree of autonomy.

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Pan-democrats meeting with the delegation.

The pan-democrats discussed the HKU academic freedom controversy with Pelosi, which they said was very serious, because “if HKU fell, Hong Kong would be finished.” A Democratic member commented that higher education institutions in the US were aware of the issue and they were raising awareness about it.

The discussion on HKU was criticised by Oriental Daily, who said that the pan-democrats were actively inviting foreign intervention by the US. The article cited HKU Court member and Legislative Councillor Chung ‘Tree Gun’ Shu-kun as saying that the pan-democratic lawmakers were “reporting to their masters” and that they were “employing double standards for telling people not to interfere in academic freedom, but now raising the issue with foreign representatives.” Legislative Councillor Wong Kwok-kin was also quoted as saying that the pan-democrats had made a habit of asking for help from foreign countries, and that the HKU affair had nothing to do with academic freedom.

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Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Wikicommons.

Pelosi will be taking the delegation to China, where they are expected to meet Chinese officials, leaders and students, to discuss issues such as national security, human rights, and climate change. They will also be visiting Tibet. In the past, Pelosi has been openly critical of China’s human right abuse record.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.