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HKSAR Government responds to Taiwan Report

"The principle of 'One Country, Two Systems' as enshrined in the Basic Law has been fully implemented since reunification. This is an achievement which has won international recognition," a Government spokesman made these remarks today (July 3) in response to media enquiries concerning a report on Hong Kong published by the Taiwan authorities.

"Since reunification, the Central Authorities have strictly adhered to the Basic Law, and have not interfered in the affairs within the autonomy of the HKSAR. There is no erosion whatsoever of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy," he said.

"Our freedoms - of speech, assembly and many others - remain strong, and are preserved and protected by the Basic Law," he added.

"The mass media in Hong Kong remain vibrant and vocal. Freedom of speech is very much alive in Hong Kong. Officials of the HKSAR Government continue to be subject to public scrutiny. They respond to press enquiries and appear on the programmes of the electronic media to account for Government's decisions and actions," he said.

The spokesman said, "The Basic Law also preserves our common law tradition and ensures the independence of the judiciary. The courts continue to exercise independent judicial power and pronounce judgments for or against individuals, corporations or the Government without fear or favour. Judges from other common law jurisdictions serve in the Court of Final Appeal as non-permanent judges. This signifies the confidence of the international judicial community in our rule of law."

"Freedoms and rights, the rule of law and democracy represent the core values of Hong Kong. These core values constitute the foundation of Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. The Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government are fully committed to upholding and preserving these core values," the spokesman said.

On constitutional development, the spokesman reiterated that the HKSAR Government attaches great importance to the work in this area. The Government will actively promote constitutional development in Hong Kong on the basis of "One Country, Two Systems" and the Basic Law.

"By constitutional design, the Central Authorities have constitutional roles and responsibilities in overseeing Hong Kong's constitutional development," he said.

"Following the decision of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress in April, there is still plenty of room for us to contemplate changes to improve the methods for electing the Chief Executive in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2008," he said.

The spokesman said, "The HKSAR Government will work closely with the community to build consensus on the way forward, with a view to narrowing the distance between the present electoral arrangements and the ultimate aim of universal suffrage."

On liaison with the Taiwan organisations in Hong Kong, the spokesman said, "The HKSAR Government has been maintaining an effective communication channel with the Taiwan organisations in Hong Kong on matters relating to Hong Kong/Taiwan relations in a pragmatic manner. This communication network has also facilitated the effective handling of emergency matters.

"In accordance with 'Qian's Seven Principles', we will continue to enhance exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan," he said.

Ends/Saturday, July 3, 2004