|Government response to remarks made by Taiwan
In response to comments made by Taiwan in connection with the ninth anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), a Constitutional Affairs Bureau spokesman made the following statement today (June 29):
"It is a well recognised fact that 'One Country, Two Systems' has been successfully implemented since Reunification and the establishment of the HKSAR in 1997. The various systems of the HKSAR have been preserved and maintained in accordance with the Basic Law.
All elections in Hong Kong are open, fair and clean, with no 'black gold' politics. Both the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government are fully alive to the community's aspirations on universal suffrage. The ultimate aim of attaining universal suffrage is also recognised by all parties.
The proposed package for the electoral methods for 2007/08 put forth by the Government in October last year would have greatly enhanced the democratic element in the two electoral methods.
According to different opinion polls, some 60% of the population supported the package before it was put to vote late last year. Also, according to a recent poll conducted by the Hong Kong Baptist University, 50% of the Hong Kong public considered that the opposition camp was responsible for the failure of the package to get passed the Legislative Council (LegCo).
Although the proposed package failed to get passed LegCo, both the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government continue to be fully committed to promoting constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law, with a view to achieving the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.
Through discussions in the Commission on Strategic Development, the Government has been actively exploring possible models for implementing universal suffrage for selecting the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council, and hopes to conclude discussions by early 2007. The Government will make public the Commission¡¦s report on the conclusions and reflect it to the Central Authorities.
The Government has been maintaining close liaison with LegCo Members of different political parties, as well as independent Members, to foster co-operation and solicit their support, with a view to forging broad consensus on issues and policies of importance to the community and bringing about effective governance.
For example, this year's Government annual budget and the funding proposal for the Tamar development project had the broad support from various political parties at LegCo.
Since reunification, an independent judiciary and the rule of law are fully protected by the Basic Law. There are senior judges from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand sitting on the bench of the Court of Final Appeal. This indicates that Hong Kong's legal system has won the full confidence and recognition of the international legal community.
Hong Kong has been maintaining its role as an international financial and trading center. In accordance with the Basic Law, Hong Kong can maintain its membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). With China's accession to the WTO, Hong Kong and our country could establish free trade arrangements under the WTO framework, which we now call Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).
Since the implementation of CEPA, Hong Kong goods could be exported to the Mainland duty free; our services sector have more extensive opportunities to develop in the Mainland market. All these initiatives are conducive to our economic development. This strengthens the regional co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong.
In April 2006, an international ratings agency Standard & Poors upgraded its long-term foreign currency and local currency ratings outlooks on Hong Kong from 'stable' to 'positive'.
The HKSAR Government has all along been promoting exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Government has assisted in arranging a number of official and non-official visits from Taiwan, for example the Taipei City authorities, Taiwanese media, academics, legal experts and other professional bodies from Taiwan. Recently we have received a group of Taiwan visitors with different political party background when they were invited to speak at a local forum.
In addition, to further facilitate Taiwan residents to visit Hong Kong, a new arrangement has just been introduced that, other than transiting Hong Kong, holders of 'Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents', which bears a valid entry/exit endorsement for the Mainland, may visit Hong Kong and stay for up to seven days provided normal immigration requirements are met."
Ends/Thursday, June 29, 2006