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HKSAR Government firmly committed to promoting constitutional development

In response to a speech entitled "Hong Kong, China and the World" delivered by the U.S. Congressman Henry J. Hyde in Hong Kong today (December 2), a Government spokesman said the statement made by Mr Hyde was groundless and misleading.

"Since reunification, Hong Kong has made steady progress on extending democracy in the HKSAR. Democratic elements in our electoral systems surpass those which existed prior to the handover.

"All the systems which make Hong Kong a free society underpinned by the rule of law have been maintained.

"There is no blurring whatsoever of the distinctiveness between the Hong Kong system and that in the Mainland.

"The boundary separating the HKSAR and the Mainland jurisdictions remains in place and the two legal systems continue to operate separately.

"Recently, the "Reporters without Borders" rated Hong Kong as the place with the freest press in Asia. This demonstrates that freedoms are very much alive in Hong Kong.

"We hope that Mr Hyde, as a member of a foreign legislature, will respect the principle that Hong Kong affairs are for Hong Kong to manage according to the Basic Law."

Responding to Mr Hyde's points about the commitment of the HKSAR Government to the constitutional development process, the spokesman emphasised that the HKSAR Government was firmly committed to promoting the constitutional development of Hong Kong.

"The Government has always taken this commitment seriously, not only by words but also by actions.

"Since reunification, we have been making steady progress in constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law.

"Currently, the Constitutional Development Task Force is engaging Hong Kong people in discussion on how we can further open up the electoral methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2008, within the framework of the Basic Law and the decision of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress in April this year.

"Since early this year, the Task Force has issued three reports and organised different forums to guide community discussion and collate public views in a systematic and rational manner.

"All these are part of the Government's efforts to help the community to build consensus on the way forward, to make progress in constitutional development, and to bring us closer to the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

"Mr Hyde's doubt over the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" is also totally unfounded.

"It is true that Hong Kong is closely linked to the Mainland in both economic and political terms since reunification.

"However, at the same time, both the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government are acutely aware that Hong Kong's continued prosperity and stability lies in our being able to maintain our separate and different systems under the "One Country, Two Systems" formula.

"The position of the HKSAR Government is very clear - we will act in strict accordance with the Basic Law to ensure that "One Country, Two Systems" remains as firmly rooted in Hong Kong as ever."

Ends/Thursday, December 2, 2004