Speech by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional Affairs on
"Remarks of official of the CPG's Liaison Office"
in the Legislative Council meeting on 24 May 2000

Following is the speech by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Clement Mak, in the motion debate on "Remarks of official of the Central People's Government's Liaison Office" in the Legislative Council today (May 24):

Madam President,

When discussing the motion moved by Hon Martin Lee, we should perhaps put its subject matter in Hong Kong's broader context. Hong Kong people fully recognise that the question of Taiwan is a matter of cardinal importance as it is of relevance to national unification, the future of the Chinese people as well as the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Any attempt to violate the principle of "One China" or to promote Taiwan's independence is bound to upset the stability both across the Taiwan Strait and in the Asia-Pacific region, and cause serious and lasting damage to Hong Kong's economic development. As such, it would be against the interests of Hong Kong. Two weeks ago, the Legislative Council debated and carried a motion expressing opposition to Taiwan becoming independent. It underlined Members' grave concern in this matter. Similarly, people from various sectors in Hong Kong, including officials of offices established by the Central People's Government (CPG) in Hong Kong, have expressed their concern on this important matter and made known their views. This is understandable. In Hong Kong, public discussion on matters of general concern is a natural phenomenon, a reflection of Hong Kong's freedom of expression.

In Hong Kong, the Basic Law protects freedom of speech, of the press and of publication. Such freedom is not subject to any restriction after reunification. The local media have been as lively and robust as before, reflecting the freedom and diversity of our society. Hong Kong's press freedom has not been undermined. We fully appreciate that freedom of the press is much cherished in our community. In line with the established policy, the HKSAR Government will continue to respect and protect press freedom in strict accordance with the relevant provisions in the Basic Law.

Hon Martin Lee has made known his views on the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" in Hong Kong in the motion. In the view of the Government of the HKSAR, since reunification the CPG has acted in strict accordance with the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" and the provisions in the Basic Law, and fully respects the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR. These are clear to the local community and widely recognised internationally.

As regards offices established by the CPG in Hong Kong, they have made it clear repeatedly that their personnel shall abide by the laws of the HKSAR. This is fully consistent with the Basic Law provisions. We firmly believe that the offices set up by the CPG in Hong Kong will continue to act in accordance with this principle.

Madam President, I have explained the position of the HKSAR Government on a number of issues raised in today's motion. Since reunification, the HKSAR Government has implemented the Basic Law fully and faithfully, and has practised "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy successfully in accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. I firmly believe that Members of the Legislative Council and the public will continue to support the Government in these areas.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000