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SCA: "One Country, Two Systems" successfully implemented

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, said today (August 21) that he welcomed the visit of The Alliance for the Reunification of China from Taiwan to Hong Kong because such visits facilitated the continuing exchange and enhanced understanding between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

At a meeting with the delegation from Taiwan this evening, Mr Lam said the "One Country, Two Systems" had been successfully implemented in Hong Kong since reunification. "The basic rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law for Hong Kong people have been fully protected. The system of different aspects of Hong Kong are operating smoothly," he said. Hong Kong is an international city where investors look vigorously for business opportunities. The number of regional headquarters and offices in Hong Kong set up by international corporations has increased from 2,500 in 1997 to 3,100 in 2002 which represents a 24% increase.

Mr Lam understood that the Taiwan community also placed importance on views expressed by the international community. Indeed, the European Commission, the United States and the United Kingdom, in their reports put to their legislative bodies in August last year, and in April and July this year respectively, recognised that the "One Country, Two Systems" had been implemented successfully in Hong Kong.

Moreover, he said the implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" had maintained Hong Kong-Taiwan relations. For instance, Taiwan airlines could continue their flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan after reunification in 1997; Taiwan businessmen could set up factories in the Mainland and list their companies in Hong Kong. This underlines clearly the effectiveness of the "One Country, Two Systems".

Last week, views were expressed in Taiwan that there were signs of Hong Kong receding in political and economic developments since the reunification, and that this was a result of the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems". Mr Lam told the delegation: "This is plainly not the case."

On constitutional development, Mr Lam cited the example that the proportion of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council had been increasing progressively in accordance with the Basic Law. The number of directly elected seats had increased from 20 in the first term to 24 in the second term. It would be further increased to 30 in 2004, accounting for half of the number of Legislative Council seats.

Mr Lam said that the economic challenges faced by Hong Kong was not related to the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems". Like other regions in Asia, Hong Kong was affected by the Asian financial turmoil. However, under "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong had preserved a sound and open financial system. Mr Lam noted that the market intervention in 1998 had fought off international hedge funds and speculators, and we were able to keep the financial market intact. The CEPA recently concluded between Hong Kong and the Mainland would enable a variety of Hong Kong products to enter the Mainland market duty-free, and would make room for our service industries and professionals to develop the Mainland market.

" 'One Country, Two Systems' provides the important foundation which enables Hong Kong to enjoy this special status, and to capitalise on this opportunity to enter the Mainland market ahead of other places in Asia," Mr Lam concluded.

(Note: The Alliance for the Reunification of China was set up in 1998 with the aim of promoting peaceful reunification of China in Taiwan. The delegation to Hong Kong comprises 19 members.)

End/Thursday, August 21, 2003