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HKSARG's response to European Commission's Report on HKSAR 2004

In response to the European Commission's Report on HKSAR 2004, a Government spokesman today (August 5) said, "We cannot accept the proposition that there have been changes in the implementation of 'One Country, Two Systems'.

"It is a well recognised fact that 'One Country, Two Systems' has been successfully implemented since Reunification and the establishment of the HKSAR in 1997. The various systems of the HKSAR have been preserved and maintained in accordance with the Basic Law.

"Freedoms, human rights, the rule of law and an independent judiciary are fully protected in Hong Kong. The Reporters Without Borders recently rated Hong Kong as having the freest press in Asia. A survey recently conducted by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy rates Hong Kong's judicial system as the best in Asia.

"Hong Kong continues to be an international and regional trading and financial centre. We promote liberalisation and competition on a sector by sector basis. For 11 years in a row, Hong Kong has been named the world's freest economy by the Heritage Foundation. Last year, there were over 3,600 foreign companies with their regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong, an all-time high figure and an increase of over 43% since 1997. All these facts reflect the confidence of the international community in Hong Kong."

On constitutional development, the Government spokesman said, "The comments made in the report reflect a misunderstanding of Hong Kong's constitutional arrangement.

"By constitutional design, the Central Authorities have the power and responsibility to oversee Hong Kong's constitutional development. It has never been the arrangement under 'One Country, Two Systems' that Hong Kong can, on its own, make changes to the electoral systems. Any such changes require tripartite consensus among the Legislative Council, the Chief Executive and the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

"Our electoral systems are progressing in a gradual and orderly manner in accordance with the Basic Law. The HKSAR Government is consulting the public on the electoral arrangement in 2007/08, within the parameters of the Basic Law and the Decision of the NPCSC in April 2004. The aim is to further open up the electoral system and broaden public participation, laying a strong foundation for the ultimate objective of universal suffrage.

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

Ends/Friday, August 5, 2005