|Transcript of SCA's media session
Following is the transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (SCA), Mr Stephen Lam, in Beijing today (December 24):
SCA: On this occasion of visiting Beijing, I have had the opportunity of meeting with colleagues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the Information Office of the State Council, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress and also colleagues of the Taiwan Affairs Office (of the State Council). I'd like to summarise briefly three main aspects which I have observed during this visit to Beijing.
Firstly, it is very clear that after the 16th Party Congress, all the departments and ministries of the Central Government are very keen, very delicated and focused on achieving the objectives set during the Party Congress to have the Gross National Products of the country quadrupled within 20 years. Against this background there are a lot of advantages which Hong Kong can exercise as an international financial centre, centre for trade, tourism and logistics. We believe that so long as the country continues to develop rapidly, openly and positively, Hong Kong will benefit. Hong Kong will be in an advantageous position to continue with our own developments.
Secondly, following the return to the motherland after 1997, "One Country, Two Systems" has been very effectively and fully maintained and implemented in Hong Kong. This has enabled Hong Kong to continue with its external relations and maintain all the systems within the Special Administrative Region. So far as the Central Government departments and ministries are concerned, they have now started to do a fresh round of work for Hong Kong within the parameters of the Basic Law. For example, we have now started to confer, discuss with the Central People's Government the question of keeping our boundary open for 24 hours round-the-clock. We have also been discussing Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements. On the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they are working hard to continue to broaden the scope of Hong Kong's visa-free arrangements for holders of the HKSAR passports. For example, they have continued to be vigorous in liaising and discussing with the Government of Japan whether such visa-free arrangements could be made available for Hong Kong passport holders in future.
Thirdly and finally, I'd like to share with you following my discussions with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, it is absolutely clear that the focus, that the commitments on the part of the Central Government to promote, to pursue reunification is sharp and clear. In Hong Kong, we will continue to implement effectively and steadily "One Country, Two Systems". We will also continue to support the implementation of "three direct links" between two sides of the Taiwan straits. We believe that this is in the long term interests of the country. We believe also that this is welcomed by people in the Mainland, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong and Macao. In the long run, Hong Kong will benefit from an expansion in the economic region. So far as we are concerned, we will make use of every opportunity available for visitors from Taiwan, whether they are in the political or business arena. We'd like to share with them how Hong Kong has coped since the reunification in 1997 and how Hong Kong has developed under the concept of "One Country, Two Systems".
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
End/Tuesday, December 24, 2002.