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HK: Listening to Beijing is key to path of reform
By Joseph Li (China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-02-12 08:47

Hong Kong must listen to the central government's view in its handling of the selection methods of the chief executive and the Legislative Council, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang said Wednesday.

Hong Kong's No. 2 official, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, speaks to lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, about his trip to Beijing to discuss constitutional reforms in Hong Kong. [newsphoto]
"Since constitutional development in Hong Kong involves the relationship between the central and SAR governments, but not purely the SAR's affairs, we must discuss with the central government fully and have its consent," he said.

Reporting on his trip to Beijing in the Legislative Council Wednesday afternoon, Tsang said the central government is seriously concerned over constitutional development in Hong Kong because it will impact on "One Country, Two Systems" and the total implementation of the Basic Law.

The central authorities stressed that Hong Kong must be run by Hong Kong people "who love Hong Kong and our country", said Tsang, head of the taskforce on constitutional development.

He revealed that during his team's three-day visit to Beijing, the relevant central government department stressed that "One Country" is the premise of "two systems" and constitutional development in Hong Kong must comply with the Basic Law.

The relationship between Hong Kong and the central government is important and it is the central government that gives Hong Kong its administrative, legislative and judicial powers.

"There is no such thing as 'residual power' for the SAR," he said.

The relevant department hoped the Hong Kong community would hold in-depth, rational discussion on the above principles to reach common ground in the interest of the entire situation, said Tsang.

Democratic Party member Cheung Man-kwong asked if the central government had given any definition for "loving the country and loving Hong Kong".

Tsang said "everyone should have his own definition in his mind".

But he quoted Deng Xiaoping's remarks that "those who refrain from doing anything that damages the interests of the country are patriotic".

Former Democratic Party c hairman Martin Lee asked if Tsang had told the central government that Hong Kong people were not seeking independence.

Tsang said: "I did not say there are Hong Kong people who seek independence."

He said the matters of principle are complicated and should be clarified first.

"Hong Kong people have not been talking much about these. At least from the viewpoint of mainland officials, we are not exploring deeply and addressing the central government's worries."

Liberal Party Chairman James Tien, who met the taskforce in the morning, said he did not think the July 1 procession and the calls for democratization would make Beijing feel Hong Kong people are not patriotic.

Tsang will continue meeting local deputations to seek their views on constitutional development. After summarizing their views following the consultation in early March, he may seek further meetings with the central government.

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