06/28/2006, 00.00
Hong Kong – China
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Anson Chan to attend 1 July democracy march

The ex-secretary general, much loved by the people, has decided to commit herself publicly to striving for democracy in the territory.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Anson Chan, one of the territory's most renowned and respected political figures, has decided to participate officially in a democracy march scheduled for 1 July in Hong Kong.

The march has been a tradition since 2003, when more than half a million people took to the streets of the centre of the ex-English colony to challenge the government and its political failure from the perspectives of freedom and economy.

This year, the burning issue of the march is the call for universal suffrage, which the population of Hong Kong has been calling for since 1997, the year of its return to the motherland. However, Beijing established – going against the Basic Law, Hong Kong's Constitution – that all changes to the electoral system must have its blessing. Beijing fears that democracy in Hong Kong may act as a catalyst for requests of democracy in China itself.

Some analysts see Chan's commitment as a bid to present herself as a candidate in elections for the post of chief executive. Replying to questions put by journalists, Chan said she wanted to take "one step at a time" and highlighted that elections for chief executive currently come to pass only with the vote of 800 delegates, mostly picked by Beijing.

The most likely candidate – who is also most obedient to China – is Donald Tsang, current governor and onetime colleague of Chan. About Tsang's commitment, Chan said he "should show more effort and courage in the fight for democracy".

Anson Chan, a 66-year-old Catholic, was the first Chinese in Hong Kong to play a role in the leadership of the British colony. In 1992, the last English governor, Chris Patten, wanted her to be secretary general. When Hong Kong was returned to China, the new chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, had her confirmed in the post of secretary. Much loved by all, firm in her principles, intelligent, efficient, the population of the territory has always hoped to elect her as governor, especially after the management failures of Tung.

In 2001, without making any fuss, she handed in her resignation. She has always fought for the autonomy of Hong Kong guaranteed by the Basic Law (one country, two systems), undersigned by Beijing. After years of silence she reappeared in public some months ago to take part in a march on 5 December last.

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