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Response to US report on Hong Kong

In response to media enquiries on the US Report "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US Record 2004-2005" released on March 28, a Constitutional Affairs Bureau spokesman reaffirmed today (March 29) that the HKSAR Government is committed to further opening up the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) in 2007 and forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2008.

"The Constitutional Development Task Force, led by the Chief Secretary for Administration, has been consulting the public on changes to be made to the two methods."

"Under the Basic Law, any amendments to the two methods will need the consent of the CE. Therefore, we will consult the newly-elected CE before publishing the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force. The period of consultation concerning the Fourth Report is accordingly extended until May 31. This will give the community more time to reach a consensus. We will endeavour to publish the Fifth Report in the latter half of this year, and complete all necessary legislative work before the election of the third-term CE in 2007," the spokesman added.

On the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in April 2004, the spokesman said, "In making the Decision, the NPCSC was acting in accordance with the provisions in the PRC Constitution and the Basic Law."

"Before making its Decision, the NPCSC has considered thoroughly the wide spectrum of views collected by the Constitutional Development Task Force from Hong Kong community."

"By constitutional design, the Central Authorities have the responsibilities and power to oversee Hong Kong's constitutional development. For changes to be made to the electoral arrangements after 2007, the Basic Law has prescribed a tripartite mechanism whereby approval from two-thirds LegCo Members, the CE and the Central Authorities is needed."

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

On the role of the legislature, the spokesman said, "This has been set out in the relevant provisions of the Basic Law. The Government will continue to work closely with LegCo in accordance with the Basic Law."

Ends/Tuesday, March 29, 2005