Top legislature interprets HK Basic Law
China's top legislature said Tuesday that it is up to the Chinese central authorities to decide whether it's necessary or not to amend the methods for selecting government head and forming local legislature in Hong Kong.
The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) shall submit a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) if there is a need to amend, which shall be decided upon by the NPC Standing Committee, said the 10th NPC Standing Committee in its interpretations of two clauses of the Annexes of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law, or the region's mini-constitution.
The NPC Standing Committee will decide on the Chief Executive'sreport "in accordance with the provisions in Articles 45 and 68 ofthe Hong Kong Basic Law and on the basis of the actual situation in Hong Kong and the principle of gradual and orderly progress," said the interpretations.
The interpretations, adopted at the end of the five-day 8th meeting of the NPC Standing Committee Tuesday, were made for Clause 7 of Annex I and Clause 3 of Annex II of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which involve issues on amending the existing methods for selecting the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, as well as the procedures for voting on bills and motions in the Legislative Council.
The two clauses respectively stipulate that "if there is a needto amend the method for selecting the Chief Executives for terms subsequent to the year 2007, such amendments must be made with theendorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the Chief Executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval" and that "with regard to the method for forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and its procedures for voting on bills and motions after 2007, if there is a need to amend the provisions of this Annex, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Council and the consent of the Chief Executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record."
The provisions in the two annexes refer to prerequisite legal procedures for amending the methods and the voting procedures. "Only upon the completion of the above-mentioned procedures, including the final approval or registration for the record by theNPC Standing Committee in accordance with law, shall the amendments take effect," said the interpretations by the NPC Standing Committee.
The interpretations added that bills and draft amendments regarding the revision of the methods and the procedures shall be proposed to the Legislative Council by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Regional Government.
The interpretations also made two clarifications of the definitions and expressions in the two annexes. "The period defined as 'subsequent to the year 2007' and 'after 2007' in the two annexes shall include the year 2007," said the interpretations.The Hong Kong SAR is expected to select its Chief Executive for the third term in 2007.
The other clarification says that the expression of "if there is a need to amend" the methods and procedures in the two annexes means that they may be amended or may not be amended.
If no amendments are to be made, the existing method for selecting the Chief Executive, the method for forming the Third Legislative Council and the existing voting procedures as provided for in the two annexes shall continue to be applicable, said the interpretations.