Hong Kong lawmakers laud talks with Clinton

AFP , Monday 25 Jul 2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged Monday to continue speaking out on China's human rights record, Hong Kong lawmakers who met with her said

The top US diplomat held talks with four legislators from different Hong Kong political parties during her visit to the southern Chinese territory, after a separate meeting with its leader, Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

The 30-minute closed-door meeting touched on human rights in China among other issues, according to legislator Albert Ho, who said he urged the US to carry on being outspoken.

"Like any other countries, it is legitimate for the US to raise its concerns on China," Ho, chairman of the Democratic Party, told AFP.

"She responded positively and said the US will continue to be concerned, that it is on the top of the agenda and it will continue to maintain this dialogue (with China)," he said.

US remarks on Chinese human rights issues, including the detention of prominent artist Ai Weiwei and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, as well as on Tibet, have consistently angered China, which denounces foreign interference in its affairs.

Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, retains a semi-autonomous status with civil liberties including freedom of speech not enjoyed on the mainland.

The city's pro-democracy political camps, including Ho's party, have called for the release of political dissidents detained by Beijing, as well as lobbying for reforms in mainland China.

Audrey Eu, a Civic Party legislator who was also at the meeting with Clinton, said the Secretary of State told the group that "America and China will continue to have robust dialogue on human rights issues".

"She appreciates the Hong Kong model and hopes China will move towards the Hong Kong model," said Eu, adding Clinton did not specify if she was referring to economic development or human rights issues.

Clinton wraps up her Asian tour after meeting Chinese officials in southern China later Monday.

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