Zen champions Hong Kong democracy

"Universal suffrage will be good for Hong Kong and for China," Cardinal Joseph Zen told 300 Christians praying in Hong Kong on Saturday before a march for democracy which attracted 58,000 people, including former civil service leader, Anson Chan.

AsiaNews reports that the march, on the ninth anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule, went from Victoria Park up to the central government offices in the Admiralty neighbourhood.

Hong Kong's Bishop Cardinal Zen, a champion of democracy in the territory, said some local and Chinese politicians claimed that since the economy of Hong Kong was improving, there was no need for democracy.

"Such opinions seek to put the economy and politics at opposite poles. In fact, universal suffrage will be very helpful for the people's livelihood," said the cardinal.

"This is the ninth anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; the Basic Law [the mini-constitution of Hong Kong, also signed by China] promised the people of Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy. ... But the present situation seems to contradict this affirmation. There has been no progress, and in fact it seems that there have been some setbacks."

The organisers of the march, based on the themes of "Justice, Equality, Democracy," said this was not an all-out challenge against Beijing or the government of Hong Kong, but a realisation of the principle [of Deng Xiaoping] of "one country, two systems."

"The march is not to challenge the central government of Beijing," said Anson Chan. "It is just to express our wish for democracy." Ms Chan, the ex-secretary general of the last English government and of the first administration under China, officially joined the march for the first time. Her presence prompted many people to participate.

The organisers said at least 58,000 people joined the march through the streets of the centre although the police said at most 28,000 people had turned up. The march for democracy has been a tradition since 1 July 2003, when more than half a million people took to the streets to protest a proposed anti-subversion law.

Card Zen: "Democracy a boon for Hong Kong and China" (AsiaNews 2/7/06)
Anson Chan to attend 1 July democracy march (AsiaNews 28/6/06)
Thousands march for democracy in Hong Kong (Swissinfo 1/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Anson Chan (Wikipedia)
Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong

Hong Kong bishop says new leader's faith no guarantee of good leadership (CathNews 14/3/05)
Pope says democracy requires moral absolutes (CathNews 21/10/04)

3 Jul 2006