PODCAST | Hong Kong and Mainland China: contested realities, future visions – Anson Chan and Martin Lee

A public forum with Anson Chan and Martin Lee

Co-presented by Sydney Ideas and the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and the Australian Institute of International Affairs (NSW)

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In 1997 the People’s Republic of China assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong, subject to The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which guarantees Hong Kong’s civic freedoms and autonomies and the rule of law, for fifty years. The Declaration and Hong Kong’s constitution were written in expectation of universal suffrage and of accountable corruption-free Government. Nearly twenty years on, Hong Kong faces formidable challenges, including growing disaffection among citizens who feel disappointed by present-day trends that are seen to contradict the substance and spirit of the Declaration.

The University of Sydney is fortunate to host a public forum with two of Hong Kong’s best-known and internationally respected civic figures Anson Chan and Martin Lee. Uniquely placed to talk about present-day realities and the future prospects for Hong Kong, they discuss:

  • What has changed in recent years in Hong Kong, and what has not?
  • Are the two co-signatories of the Declaration honouring their promises?
  • Why are there signs of rising frustration among Hong Kong citizens?
  • Do the recent Hong Kong elections have long-term significance?
  • Should Hong Kong matter to the world, and why does it matter to Beijing?


anson_chan_002Anson Chan GBM GCMG was the first Chinese and the first woman to assume the post of Chief Secretary and Head of the Civil Service under British sovereignty in Hong Kong. She was the international symbol of continuity when she remained in post, as the first Chief Secretary for Administration, after Hong Kong’s transition to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. She was thus second-in-command of Hong Kong to both Chris Patten, the last British Governor, and to C H Tung, the first Chinese Chief Executive . She was then sometimes described as the most powerful woman in Asia. She oversaw many infrastructure developments, including Hong Kong’s new iconic airport. During her earlier years in the Civil Service she successfully led a campaign for equal pay and conditions for women. After her retirement from the Civil Service, she was elected to the Hong Kong Legislative Council. She is now active in promoting principles of good governance and democracy in Hong Kong and defending “one country, two systems, Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”.

In 1997 she felt confident in reassuring the world that Hong Kong’s way of life and commercial sanctity would continue. She now sees threats, which she is here to discuss. She has been a strong defender of Hong Kong’s free press, and is a former Trustee of Reuter’s. She is the Convenor of Hong Kong 2020 and a founding director of Project Citizens Foundation.

Anson Chan was born in Shanghai. She studied English Literature at Hong Kong University. Her mother, Fang Zhaoling, was a famous Chinese artist.

aboutMartin Lee QC SC was the Founding Chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, and a long-standing legislator. He is often regarded as the father of Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

He is the winner of numerous international human rights awards, including the 1995 International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association. He is a senior Hong Kong barrister, and was on the Chinese committee which drafted Hong Kong’s constitutional Basic Law, until he had to leave this Committee after he protested against the Tiananmen Square massacre.

He has a long history of advocacy for Hong Kong’s freedoms as promised in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, in specific conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He argues that because the Declaration is registered with The United Nations, the parties’ compliance with the Declaration is of proper international concern. He has had White House discussions on Hong Kong civic developments with both President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Gore, and later with Vice-President Joe Biden, as well as having presented to committees of the US Congress and the UK Parliament.


cheymainJocelyn Chey is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney, and Councillor of the Australian Institute of International Affairs New South Wales.

For more than 20 years, she worked on Australia-China relations in the Departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs and was posted three times in China and Hong Kong, concluding with an appointment as Consul-General in Hong Kong (1992-1995). She was the key administrative officer in the Australia-China Council at the time that it was founded in 1979. From 1988-92 she worked outside the public sector, as Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat.

IMAGE:Gary Feuerberg/The Epoch Times