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Response to US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) 2008 Annual Report on Hong Kong

     In response to media enquiries, a Government spokesman responded today (November 21) to comments in the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) 2008 Annual Report relating to Hong Kong.

     “It is regrettable that the Report has made groundless comments that the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) enables the NPCSC to delay any movement toward universal suffrage. On the contrary, NPCSC’s decision, which made clear the timetable for attaining universal suffrage, carries most important significance for Hong Kong's constitutional development. Now that the universal suffrage timetable has been determined, it is up to Hong Kong to establish consensus for its implementation in 2017 and 2020.

     “Regarding the future universal suffrage models for the Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Council (LegCo), the HKSAR Government has not formed any views. Nonetheless, the NPCSC’s decision made clear that, when universal suffrage for the CE is implemented in 2017, the nominating committee shall follow democratic procedures to nominate candidates, who is to be elected through one-person-one-vote by all registered electors of Hong Kong.

     “As for other issues relating to the implementation of universal suffrage for the CE and LegCo, such as the nomination procedures for CE candidates and the future of functional constituencies, the Hong Kong community will have sufficient time to discuss.

     “The future universal suffrage models would have to be endorsed by a two-thirds majority of all LegCo Members in accordance with the procedures stipulated in Annexes I and II to the Basic Law, and supported by the majority of the public. In attaining universal suffrage, the HKSAR Government would strive to forge consensus within the community on the models to be put forth.

     “According to NPCSC’s decision, while universal suffrage is not to be implemented in 2012, the elections for CE and LegCo in 2012 can be made more democratic.

     “We will consult the public on the possible options for the two electoral methods for 2012 within the first half of 2009. The aim of the current-term HKSAR Government, led by Mr Donald Tsang, is to determine the two electoral methods for 2012 within its tenure. This could then lay a solid foundation for attaining universal suffrage for the CE in 2017, and for LegCo in 2020.

     “Between 2012 and 2017, the fourth-term CE and the fifth-term LegCo should address together the method for implementing universal suffrage for the CE. The CE taking office in 2017 will have to work with the LegCo returned in 2016 and come up with proposals to attain universal suffrage for the LegCo in 2020. This CE, returned by universal suffrage, will have broad public support to lead the Hong Kong community to resolve this issue.

     “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 and legislatures will continue to respect this principle.”

Ends/Friday, November 21, 2008