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Interpretation of Basic Law in HK's interest
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-29 07:57

Stephen Lam, Hong Kong's secretary for Constitutional Affairs, said on Saturday that China's top legislature's interpretation of the Basic Law will not harm either the implementation of "one country, two systems" or a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong.

Speaking at a symposium on constitutional development, Lam, also head of the Constitutional Development Task Force, said according to Article 62 of the Constitution, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) is responsible for determining the constitution of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) while Article 158 of the Basic Law stipulates that, the NPC Standing Committee is entrusted to interpret the Basic Law.

Lam said the early interpretation and clear definition of the related articles will be good for Hong Kong.

In a related development, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said on Saturday that it is the legitimate right for the NPC Standing Committee to interpret the Basic Law, and the act will not affect the confidence of foreign investors for Hong Kong.

He said foreign investors care about Hong Kong's economic structures and whether they can make money there.

He said Hong Kong's economy has just entered recovery track, which does not come easily.

He said he believes the most important thing for Hong Kong is to seek opportunities and make concerted efforts to face new challenges.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee -hwa also said it is legitimate for the NPC to interpret the Basic Law. Tung spoke at a press conference held Friday evening, adding that the HKSAR government was duly notified by the central government that China's top legislature will deliberate on a draft interpretation of Clause 7 of Annex I and Clause 3 of Annex II of the Basic Law in its next meeting from April 2 to April 6.

He said that a meeting of the NPC Standing Committee chairman and vice-chairmen on Friday it was decided to collect the views of the Basic Law Committee of Hong Kong SAR under the NPC Standing Committee on the draft interpretation.

Tung said the central government has stated that the constitutional development of Hong Kong concerns the full implementation of the Basic Law and "one country, two systems." It also concerns interests of various strata and sector of the community of Hong Kong, as well as the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

China's top legislature's discussion of the constitutional development indicated that the central government has been attaching great importance to the issue, he added.

Tung said constitutional development is a complicated and serious issue, concerning the basic interests of the whole nation and Hong Kong as well.

He said in the past two months, the Constitutional Development Task Force has promoted extensive discussions among the community on the issue. The community does have a wide range of opinions on the issues of the legislative process.

He said the task force will meet members of the NPC Standing Committee to reflect the views of the public on the issues of the legislative process collected in the past two months and the position of the HKSAR government on these issues.

Various Hong Kong media said on Saturday the plan of NPC to interpret the Basic Law provisions is timely and significant to fostering consensus over constitutional development.

Newspaper Takunpao said in a commentary that the central authorities have recently done lots of work on Hong Kong's constitutional development, which has markedly raised Hong Kong people's understanding of the Basic Law, yet not dispelled all dispute.

Wenweipo, another newspaper, said great deeds since the handover have proved that the central government is determined to carry out the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic law.

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