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Transcript of SCA's response to "foreign governments' reactions on interpretation"

Following is the transcript of a stand-up briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after the forum at Government House this afternoon (April 8):

Reporter: What is your response to the US and British reactions on the interpretation?

SCA: We fully understand that foreign governments and foreign investors are keenly interested in Hong Kong's development. I wish to emphasize that we value very highly Hong Kong's external commercial relations and Hong Kong's international links.

At the same time, I wish to emphasize that the constitutional development in Hong Kong is a complex issue. Within Hong Kong we have a full range of opinions. As a pluralistic society, we have debates on these issues and aim to arrive at a consensus within our community. Also we have to seek to arrive at a consensus on the way forward with Beijing. We hope that our foreign partners will respect the principle that it is for the Central Authorities and for Hong Kong to deal with these issues in accordance with the Basic Law. We need to be left on our own to resolve these complex issues within our community.

I also wish to emphasize that to foreign investors, the rule of law in Hong Kong, our liberties and our freedoms mark the importance of Hong Kong as an open society. All these values we cherish in Hong Kong and the Government will always maintain the integrity of these values.

Reporter: (inaudible)

SCA: Today we have had very full and frank exchange of views with participants and with the speakers from the Mainland. One of the important points which was brought out is that it is actually two legal systems interacting. The interpretation given by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is fully constitutional and legal. It is an act which enables Hong Kong to move forward on the question of constitutional development. Opinions from all sides which were expressed by legal professionals in Hong Kong, and I think all parties concerned, cherish this communication.

(Please also refer to the Chinese transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, April 8, 2004