|SCMA:World recognises successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" in HKSAR (with photos)
The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, said today (July 4) that both Hong Kong people and the international community recognised that "One Country, Two Systems" had been successfully implemented in Hong Kong in the past decade and that the Basic Law had provided new room for development for the Hong Kong SAR.
Mr Lam pointed this out when he addressed the 2007 CSY Gala Dinner cum celebration of the 10th anniversary of the reunification of the HKSAR.
"On the economic front, the Basic Law has allowed Hong Kong to maintain its membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after the Reunification. This has enabled Hong Kong to conclude the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with the Mainland in 2003, which had spurred the SAR's economic recovery," Mr Lam said.
He said "At the end of June, the Supplement IV to the CEPA was signed between the HKSAR Government and the Central Authorities.
"Under the Supplement, the Mainland will introduce 40 liberalisation measures in 28 services areas, including existing ones such as banking, tourism, convention and exhibition, and medical, plus 11 new ones including elderly services, environmental services and public utilities.
"The two sides will also enhance co-operation in finance, convention and exhibition, and mutual recognition of professional qualifications. All these will bring major development potentials for professionals in Hong Kong.
Mr Lam said, "The TIME Magazine has recently published an article acknowledging that 'One Country, Two Systems' had been successfully implemented and admitting that Fortune had predicted incorrectly before 1997 the future development of Hong Kong.
"This has proved that the recent remark made by Mr Chen Shui-bian that 'One Country, Two Systems' no longer exists is groundless.
"Hong Kong has been ranked by the Heritage Foundation of the United States of America as the world's freest economy for 13 years in a row. Over the past 10 years, the number of overseas enterprises setting up regional headquarters and regional offices in Hong Kong has continued to rise. The number rose to 3,800 in 2006, representing an increase of 50 per cent from 1997."
On democratic development, Mr Lam said that the Basic Law had clearly stipulated that the ultimate aim is to return the Chief Executive (CE) and all members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage.
He said, "Hong Kong has made more progress in constitutional development over the past 10 years than that before reunification. Before the Reunification, the Governor of Hong Kong was appointed by the British Government, whereas after the Reunification, the CE is elected. In respect of the legislature, the number of seats directly elected from geographical constituencies has increased from one-third to one-half."
He emphasised that the CE had already made it clear that he would resolve the issue of universal suffrage in the coming five years. He would endeavour progressively to take forward discussions within the community, with a view to coming up with a consensus within the community on the model, roadmap and timetable for achieving the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.
The SAR Government would publish a Green Paper on constitutional development and consult the public on this issue.
Mr Lam pointed out that before the Reunification, many Hong Kong people were concerned as to whether the freedoms and rule of law they enjoyed in Hong Kong would be affected after 1997.
He said, "However, over the past 10 years since Reunification, the number of Hong Kong people emigrating to other countries (e.g. Canada) has dropped significantly from over 40,000 per year before the Reunification to only about 2,000 per year at present. This demonstrates that Hong Kong people have confidence in 'One Country, Two Systems'.
"The Basic Law has safeguarded the rights and freedoms of HKSAR residents.
"Thus, you are still able to see local and overseas media discussing current affairs and livelihood issues in an open manner. This demonstrates that the freedom of speech and of the press have been fully safeguarded.
"At present, there are more than 40 daily newspapers and 600 periodicals published in Hong Kong. Many international news agencies, trans-continental publications and overseas broadcasting companies have set up their Asia-Pacific headquarters or regional offices here.
"These local and overseas media organisations are able to report actively on the latest updates on Hong Kong to the rest of the world," he added.
"In Hong Kong, the common law system is maintained under the Basic Law. We attach great importance to the rule of law. We have a clean government. All elections are conducted in a fair, open and honest manner.
"Under the Basic Law, the HKSAR Government may issue HKSAR passports. As of today, 134 countries/regions have granted visa-free access, or provided visa-on-arrival arrangements, for HKSAR passport-holders.
Mr Lam said, "Hong Kong's hosting of the WTO's sixth Ministerial Conference in 2005 was a very significant event, showing that Hong Kong could play host in the international arena.
"The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) TELECOM WORLD, held in Hong Kong last year, was an even larger international conference.
"The former Director of Health, Dr Margaret Chan, as a Hong Kong professional and a Chinese national, was successfully elected as the Director-General of the World Health Organisation. This has enabled a Hong Kong resident to make some contribution in the international arena for our country.
"Taiwan has continually expressed the hope of expanding its scope of activity in the international arena. As a matter of fact, the successful implementation of 'One Country, Two Systems' has been very important in enabling Hong Kong to find new room for development. The community and people of Hong Kong support the Reunification of Hong Kong, look forward to the implementation of 'Three Links' across the Strait and the early Reunification of the nation. We hope that Taiwan can also enjoy similar new room for development as Hong Kong does," Mr Lam said.
Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2007
SCMA:World recognises successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems"in HKSAR
The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, hosted a lunch for about 90 students who came from the Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao to participate in a cross-strait youth exchange programme. Photo shows Mr Lam (second row, sixth left) taking a group photo with the students and other guests after the lunch reception.