Biden meets H.K. democracy activists


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Friday for democratic rule in Hong Kong as he met with two outspoken activists from the semiautonomous Chinese metropolis.

In an unusually high sign of support, the Obama administration said Biden stopped by for talks at the White House with Martin Lee, a founder of the opposition Democratic Party, and Anson Chan, the former No. 2 in the Hong Kong government.

“The vice president underscored our long-standing support for democracy in Hong Kong and for the city’s high degree of autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” a White House statement said.

China promised a separate system for Hong Kong in an agreement with Britain, which returned control of the colonial outpost turned financial hub in 1997. China has promised direct elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017.

Chan and Lee, in public appearances in the U.S., charged that Beijing has been tightening its controls over Hong Kong and voiced fear that the communist rulers will only allow handpicked candidates to run in 2017.