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Government responds to European Commission's 10th annual report on HK

In response to media enquiries, a Government spokesman made the following response today (March 6) to the Report from the Commission of the European Communities to the Council and the European Parliament on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2007):

“We welcome the conclusion in the European Commission’s report that the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle has been respected and is working well for the people of Hong Kong.

“However, on constitutional development, the Commission’s report is inaccurate in its observation that ‘no substantive changes to the current system will be made before 2017’. According to the Decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) on 29 December 2007, while universal suffrage is not to be implemented in 2012, appropriate amendments consistent with the principle of gradual and orderly progress may be made to the methods for electing the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council.

"The Decision of the NPCSC also made clear the timetable for attaining universal suffrage. According to the Decision, the Chief Executive may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and, after the Chief Executive has been elected by universal suffrage, all members of the Legislative Council may be elected by universal suffrage in 2020. This carries most important significance for Hong Kong's constitutional development.

“The NPCSC's Decision is constitutional and consistent with the Basic Law. As reflected in opinion polls, the Decision is well received by the community. According to the poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in January, over 70 per cent of the public accept the NPCSC's Decision.

“The HKSAR Government is fully committed to the implementation of universal suffrage according to the Basic Law. Now that the universal suffrage timetable has been set, the HKSAR Government will strive to work towards securing consensus within the community on how to further democratise the two electoral methods for 2012, so as to pave the way for attaining universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020.

“We have already established the Task Group on Constitutional Development under the Commission on Strategic Development to take forward discussions on the electoral methods for 2012.

“The implementation of universal suffrage according to the Basic Law is part of our internal affairs. This is a matter for the HKSAR and the Central Authorities to deal with according to the Basic Law. We hope and believe that foreign governments will continue to respect this principle."

Ends/Thursday, March 6, 2008