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Government response to EC's Report on HK

In response to media enquiries on the European Commission's Fourth Annual Report on Hong Kong, a Government spokesman said today (August 8), "We have noted the Report. The Commission acknowledges that five years on from the Handover, Hong Kong remains a free and open society, underpinned by the rule of law, and retains a lively press."

"The Commission concludes that the implementation of the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle in 2001 has shown that Hong Kong is maintaining its unique and separate identity within China. The Commission also welcomes the commitments made by the Central People's Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) to maintain and safeguard this principle," the spokesman said.

On the introduction of the accountability system in July this year, the spokesman said, "The system will bring about a more open, accountable and effective government. It will also preserve the strengths and core values of the civil service system."

"Under the accountability system, the civil service will remain professional, permanent, meritocratic and politically neutral. These are qualities which both the Administration and the community would wish to preserve," the spokesman added.

On the review on constitutional development, the Government spokesman said, "The Basic Law has laid down a 10-year blueprint on constitutional development for the HKSAR. It provides that the ultimate aim is the election of the Chief Executive and Members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage."

"There is a need for us to review the post-2007 constitutional development. We have no set timetable for the review yet. It is our goal to develop a system which will be in the long-term interest of Hong Kong and acceptable to the community at large."

"We will continue to listen to the views of different sectors of the community and conduct the review at an appropriate time. Decisions will be made only after extensive consultations," the spokesman stressed.

On right of abode, the spokesman said, "The HKSARG acts in strict accordance with the law in handling all right of abode cases. Our laws, policies and practices relating to right of abode are fully consistent with international human rights obligations applicable to Hong Kong."

End/Thursday, August 8, 2002