|Responses to the European Parliament Report on Hong Kong
Responses to the European Parliament Report on Hong Kong
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region notes the contents of the Report on Hong Kong submitted to the European Parliament. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the Report later today (Hong Kong time).
The Report contains comments and observations on such topics as the rule of law, human rights, political development, competition policy, and visa free access to the Member States of the European Union for holders of the HKSAR passport.
The Government welcomes the renewed call on all member states of the European Union to grant visa-free entry for holders of the HKSAR passport.
The Government also notes the Report's conclusion that the "one country, two systems" principle remains intact, and that Hong Kong remains one of the freest societies in Asia. The Government also notes the Report's recognition that despite the economic downturns in Asia, Hong Kong's economy remains resilient, and the prospects for future growth continues to be very good.
The rule of law is well and alive in Hong Kong. The Government is firmly committed to upholding it. The interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the right of abode issue is entirely legal and constitutional, a point which the Court of Final Appeal confirmed last December. The two cases referred to in the Report (i.e. the Cheung Tze-keung and Li Yuhai cases) do not in any way prejudice the competence and jurisdiction of the courts in Hong Kong. In both cases, the courts in the Mainland have exercised jurisdiction in accordance with relevant provisions of the Chinese Criminal Code. There is no question of the Mainland interfering with Hong Kong's jurisdiction or the independence of our judicial system.
Regarding the proposal to establish a Human Rights Commission, the Government notes that there are already strong institutional safeguards for the protection of human rights. The provisions of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong are entrenched in the Basic Law. This is complemented by the existence of an independent Judiciary, a free and active press, and a comprehensive legal aid system which ensures that persons of limited means are not denied access to the courts.
Hong Kong is one of the freest markets in the world, with a liberal regulatory environment and a highly competitive economy. Competition is best nurtured and sustained by the free play of market forces and minimal government intervention. All businesses, irrespective of their origins, are competing on a level playing field. The Report refers to the awarding of the Cyberport project to Pacific Century CyberWorks. The Cyberport is an infrastructure we are building in Hong Kong for clustering of quality information technology companies. The Government entered into discussions with Pacific Century CyberWorks from which the idea of developing a cyberport originated. Pacific Century CyberWorks has the expertise to design and develop the infrastructure, is committed to becoming an anchor tenant at the Cyberport and thus having a long term interest in making it a success, and is willing to complete the project in the shortest possible time and to shoulder all the costs and the risks. The Government publicly announced the main terms of the Project Agreement signed with Pacific Century CyberWorks in May this year to reassure the public that the Government's and the public's maximum interests are safeguarded. There is no question of us moving away from an open and fair basis in dealing with the business sector.
The laws of Hong Kong and the Stock Exchange's listing rules are applied without fear or favour. There is no question of favouritism on the part of the Government nor the regulator or the exchange. Regarding the listing of tom.com, the Stock Exchange has made it very clear that none of the waivers are unique to the company. Indeed, tom.com is not the first company to have requested and been granted these waivers. The Stock Exchange has also made it clear from the outset that it would review its rules in the light of actual experience. This review has been completed, and the market has been consulted on the proposed revisions. It is expected that these revised rules will be promulgated very soon.
The Basic Law already lays down the road map for the development of Hong Kong's political structure. It also guarantees the ultimate aim of electing all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. In the meantime, the number of members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage has already been increased, from 20 in 1998 to 24 in 2000 in accordance with the Basic Law. It will be further increased to 30 in 2004. The Basic Law also provides a mechanism for us to decide on the method of forming the Legislative Council after 2007.
End/Wednesday, October 25, 2000