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HKSAR Government responds to US Congressional-Executive Commission on China's hearing on HK

In response to the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China's hearing on "Hong Kong After the Elections: The Future of 'One Country, Two Systems'" on September 23, a government spokesman made the following statement today (September 24):

"The HKSAR Government reiterates that it would take forward constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

"The Basic Law provides that the elections of the Chief Executive (CE) and all the members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) by universal suffrage is the ultimate aim, and this will be achieved by gradual and orderly progress and in the light of the actual situation of Hong Kong.

"Although under the NPCSC Decision, universal suffrage will not be introduced in 2007 and 2008 for the elections of the CE and of the LegCo, there is scope to make further improvements to our electoral system and to make progress towards the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

"The community will continue to play an important role in Hong Kong's constitutional development. The Constitutional Development Task Force chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration will endeavour to find common ground and build consensus as we take forward our constitutional development process.

"We hope that foreign governments and legislatures will continue to respect the principle that Hong Kong's electoral arrangements should be made in accordance with the Basic Law.

"The election for the third term Legislative Council (LegCo) held on September 12, 2004 is an important milestone in Hong Kong's constitutional development. For the first time, 50% of the LegCo Members are returned by direct election. The number of candidates participated (159 candidates), the voter turnout in terms of number (over 1.7 million) and percentage (55.6% for the geographical constituencies and 70.14% for the functional constituencies) are all historic highs.

"These figures vividly demonstrate public support of the electoral system.

"The election has been conducted in an open, fair and honest manner. Although there have been some administrative hiccups in the practical arrangements for the election, they have in no way compromised the integrity of the election. The Electoral Affairs Commission has undertaken to review the arrangements, which will submit a report to the Chief Executive as required under the law. All election-related complaints will also be thoroughly and comprehensively investigated by the Commission and other relevant authorities.

Ends/Friday, September 24, 2004