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SCA: HK continues to make progress on democratic front

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a stand-up briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Central Government Offices this morning (October 6):

SCA: In response to the US Congressional report concerning Hong Kong, I would like to make the following points. Firstly, we hope that the American Congress will appreciate that Hong Kong is continuing to make progress on the democratic front. For the third term Legislative Council, we have 50% of our seats being returned by direct elections. Secondly, the ultimate aim of universal suffrage is supported by all parties, by Beijing, by Hong Kong.

What we need to discuss within this community now is the question of pace, speed and form for attaining this aim of universal suffrage. Thirdly, as Hong Kong is not a sovereign entity, it is necessary for Hong Kong to work with Beijing on questions relating to constitutional development. This is the arrangement of "One Country, Two Systems". This cannot be understood to be an erosion of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that we hope the American Congress, foreign governments and foreign parliaments will continue to respect one principle, and that is Hong Kong affairs are for Hong Kong to manage according to the Basic Law.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, October 6, 2004