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Response to US-China Economic and Security Review Commission 2010 Annual Report on Hong Kong

     In response to media enquires on the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) 2010 Annual Report on Hong Kong, a Government spokesman today (November 18) said:

     "The USCC Report on Hong Kong is based on an incorrect understanding of Hong Kong's constitutional position and history. On Hong Kong's constitutional history, it is wrong to state that 'universal suffrage, agreed to in the Joint Declaration, (was) once again delayed'. In fact, the Joint Declaration did not refer to universal suffrage. When the Joint Declaration was concluded in 1984 between the United Kingdom and the Mainland China, only two simple provisions about elections were incorporated, i.e. the Legislative Council (LegCo) shall be constituted by elections; the Chief Executive (CE) shall be selected by election or through local consultations.

     "However, the Central Authorities and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government have been fully committed to developing democracy for Hong Kong and attaining universal suffrage. Between 1985 and 1990, the Central Authorities consulted the Hong Kong community on the drafting of the Basic Law. In response to Hong Kong opinion, the Central Authorities decided to incorporate into the Basic Law the ultimate aim of universal suffrage for electing the CE and the LegCo.

     "This undertaking surpasses the provisions of the Joint Declaration. Thus, the promise of attaining universal suffrage was an initiative taken by Central Authorities for the benefit of Hong Kong's future.

     "On Hong Kong's constitutional position, it is wrong to allege that 'a proportion of Legislative Council seats will be appointed by functional constituencies'. Functional constituency (FC) seats are in fact returned by elections. In 2012, five of these functional seats will be returned by 3.2 million voters. Thus, the FC electorate will be increased very significantly from the current base of 230,000 voters to over 3 million voters.

     "Hong Kong has taken a critical step forward in its constitutional development in 2010. The proposed package for the 2012 elections was passed by a two-thirds majority of all the members of the LegCo, given consent by the CE and endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

     "For the first time since the establishment of the HKSAR, we have managed to complete the 'five-step mechanism' as set out in the Basic Law and the NPCSC's Interpretation of 2004 to amend the electoral methods for the CE and the LegCo. This will give the Hong Kong community greater confidence in and a stronger basis for forging consensus on constitutional development in future and pave the way for implementing universal suffrage for the CE and the LegCo in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

     "The 2012 constitutional reform package will enhance significantly the democratic elements of the two electoral methods. In particular, for the LegCo election, with the addition of five new geographical constituency (GC) seats and five new District Council FC seats, close to 60 per cent of all seats in the LegCo will have an electorate base of over 3 million voters. Every registered voter will have two votes in the 2012 LegCo election, one for GCs, and the other for FCs.

     "Over three-quarters of our elected legislators chose to support the 2012 constitutional development package, because it will roll forward democracy for Hong Kong, and not because Hong Kong's legislature is 'unwilling to act independently of Beijing'. In fact, all LegCo members determine their voting positions on their own. This allegation in the Commission's report is ungrounded and misplaced.

     "To take forward the 2012 constitutional reforms, we will put forth local legislation shortly.

     "We strongly disagree with the USCC's recommendation, which is made based on misguided and unfounded speculations, that the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act should be re-enacted. In any event, the implementation of constitutional reform in Hong Kong 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 that foreign governments and legislatures will continue to respect this principle."

Ends/Thursday, November 18, 2010