|HKSAR Government responds to US Congress House of Representatives' resolution
In response to the resolution passed by the US Congress House of Representatives concerning Hong Kong's freedom, a government spokesman made the following statement today (September 14):
"The resolution passed by the US Congress House Of Representatives does not reflect the actual situation in Hong Kong, which remains one of the world's freest societies.
"The HKSAR Government will protect vigilantly the exercising of freedoms protected by the Basic Law.
"Since reunification, the Central Authorities have allowed Hong Kong to exercise a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law.
"In Hong Kong, our freedoms ?X of speech, of the press, of assembly, of demonstration and in many other areas ?X are constitutionally protected by the Basic Law and supported by the rule of law upheld by an independent judiciary.
"Anyone who visits Hong Kong will be able to see for themselves that we exercise these freedoms on a daily basis.
"On elections, we take great pride in our fair, open and honest elections. We will not tolerate any illegal acts that may tarnish our reputation in this respect.
"The election for the third term Legislative Council (LegCo) which we have just held is an important milestone in Hong Kong's constitutional development. It has the highest number of directly elected seats; the number of candidates who participated and the voter turnout rate were all historic highs.
"The Basic Law provides that the methods for electing the Chief Executive (CE) and the LegCo should move forward in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress and in the light of the actual situation of Hong Kong.
"On Hong Kong's constitutional development, it has never been intended under 'One Country, Two Systems' for the HKSAR, completely on its own, to decide on its political structure.
"By constitutional design, the Central Authorities have the powers and responsibilities to oversee Hong Kong's constitutional development.
"Time and again, our national leaders have expressed support for the development of democracy in Hong Kong and the ultimate aim of universal suffrage. The issue at present is the pace and time for attaining this goal.
"Although universal suffrage will not be introduced in 2007 and 2008 for the election of the CE and of LegCo, there is scope to further open up the electoral arrangements for those elections.
"The community will continue to play an important role in Hong Kong's constitutional development. The Constitutional Development Task Force chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration will endeavour to find common ground and build consensus as we take forward our constitutional development process.
"We hope that foreign legislatures will continue to respect the principle that Hong Kong affairs are for Hong Kong to manage according to the Basic Law."
Ends/Tuesday, September 14, 2004