Following is a question by Hon Lee Wing-tat and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 24):
On December 31 last year, community groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan jointly organised a video forum entitled "New challenges to the development of democracy in Taiwan and Hong Kong". On the same day, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government ("SAR Government") made a statement that the "constitutional development concerns the affairs of the HKSAR under 'One Country,
Two Systems', and is a matter for the Central Authorities and the HKSAR to deal with in accordance with the Basic Law; those in Taiwan have no role in this". Also, the Xinhua News Agency reported on the next day that officials of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("the Liaison Office") had criticised the
authorities of Taiwan for "colluding with certain political organisations in Hong Kong and sowing discord between the compatriots of Hong Kong and the Central Government". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
(a) it knows the basis for the criticism made by the officials of the Liaison Office that the authorities of Taiwan are colluding with certain political organisations in Hong Kong; if so, of the details;
(b) the SAR Government disallows any organisation or individual from Taiwan to comment on Hong Kong's constitutional development; and
(c) it has assessed the consequences of the SAR Government making the above statement, including whether a shadow of official interference will be cast over normal academic exchanges between community groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong; if an assessment has been made, of the results?
In response to the question raised by the Hon Lee Wing-tat, our reply is as follows.
(a) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government will not comment on the statement made by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR.
(b) Constitutional development concerns the affairs of the HKSAR under "One Country, Two Systems", and is a matter for the Central Authorities and the HKSAR to deal with in accordance with the Basic Law. According to Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law, any amendments to the electoral methods shall require the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all members of the
Legislative Council, the consent of the Chief Executive, and the endorsement by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Under the framework of the Basic Law, those in Taiwan have no role in Hong Kong's constitutional development.
(c) Under the "One China" principle, the HKSAR Government has all along been handling Taiwan-related affairs in accordance with "Qian's Seven Principles". This includes promoting and welcoming exchanges between organisations in the HKSAR and Taiwan in various fields, including education, science, technology, culture, arts, sports, professional services, medicine and health,
labour, social welfare and social work.
In the last few years, the HKSAR Government has provided assistance actively to representatives of various sectors of Taiwan in making arrangements to visit Hong Kong. These include professional bodies from the medical and business sectors, and the media, etc, as well as student groups. We briefed the Taiwan visitors on Hong Kong's latest developments and the strengths of the
"One Country, Two Systems". We also received and arranged for officials from Taiwan to visit various government departments, so as to strengthen mutual understanding. We will continue to promote this kind of exchanges. Through introducing Hong Kong's latest developments, and arranging visits to HKSAR's infrastructure and other facilities, as well as various policy bureaux and
departments of the HKSAR Government, we will help visitors from different sectors of Taiwan understand the successful implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" in Hong Kong.
Ends/Wednesday, January 24, 2007