British Consul-General Caroline Wilson in a Facebook live session answered questions on her four-year tenure in the city, ahead of an upcoming departure from Hong Kong back to the UK.
Wilson was praised by the host, who said the consulate-general was one of the highest-rated LGBT inclusive workplaces in Hong Kong.
“It’s one of the things that surprises me, honestly, in Hong Kong, is there is still discrimination here – and we have worked really hard in the past four years and I am sure my successors, my team, will continue to do so to outlaw all forms of discrimination,” she said.
She added that a rainbow banner will continue to be displayed outside the consulate-general during the next Hong Kong pride event.
She was also asked if there was any progress in same-sex marriage ceremonies for British citizens being permitted at the consulate.
“We have yet to have any progress but we’ve been working very hard at it – we can only conduct these ceremonies if there is no objection from the host government,” she said. “And unfortunately our host government is not happy and have objected to us conducting same-sex marriages, so it’s an issue we’re gonna continue pursuing.”
— UK in Hong Kong (@UKinHongKong) November 6, 2015
‘Strong ties with HK, China’
The first question for her was “will the UK take back Hong Kong,” and, unsurprisingly, her answer was a firm no.
“Hong Kong’s place is firmly within the People’s Republic of China under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework, which has on the whole worked incredibly well in almost 20 years since the handover,” she said. “In any place there are challenges – I am absolutely confident that Hong Kong and China are going to overcome any small challenges.”
“The UK has resolutely upheld our commitments to Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration. Evidence of that is the monitoring of developments that we do here in Hong Kong every six months, with the six-monthly report to the parliament,” she said. “We are very engaged in ensuring that the Joint Declaration – the rights and freedoms that it upholds – are protected here in Hong Kong.”
The following question asked her views on the notion that Hong Kong should return to the UK as “it’s good business and good feng shui for both Britain and Hong Kong.”
Wilson said “good feng shui” – a philosophical idea for harmony with the environment – and good business for the UK is having strong ties with Hong Kong and China, which will be continued.
Asked whether it’s true that the UK has taken no action to help Hong Kong even though it is a signatory of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Wilson said she did not agree.
On her life in Hong Kong, she said her favourite food in the city was the local dessert ginger milk curd, and her favourite places were Chi Lin Nunnery and Mount Cameron.
Asked about major challenges she faced, she said in Cantonese: “Speaking Cantonese – because speaking Cantonese is really hard.”
Another big challenge was the pro-democracy occupy protests in 2014, she said. “Because there was a lot going on politically in Hong Kong, but at the same time we had to ensure we were doing all the other parts of our important work.”
Wilson said her plan for the future was “probably to work on European Union, on our relationship with Europe.”