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China unhappy with British comments on HK
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-23 01:01

Beijing lashed out at Britain Thursday for its "rash comments" on Hong Kong's implementation of "One country, two systems" while pledging to promote democracy in the territory.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan expressed "strong dissatisfaction with and firm opposition to" the British Government's accusation that Beijing has hurt Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

The Chinese criticism came after the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw presented a report to prliament on Tuesday, calling Beijing's April ruling over Hong Kong's election methods "inconsistent with the high degree of autonomy guaranteed to Hong Kong."

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, ruled in April that Hong Kong will not hold direct elections for its leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008 for the benefit of a smooth constitutional development in the city.

In a written statement, Kong said the NPC Standing Committee interpreted the Basic Law and made its decisions "rightly in line with law and its constitutional power" and there is no issue of affecting the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong.

The measures taken by the NPC Standing Committee "are not only necessary but also conducive to the smooth progress in Hong Kong's constitutional development according to the Basic law and conform to the fundamental interests of the Hong Kong public," the spokesman said.

He stressed that since Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, the principles of "One country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy have been well implemented.

The freedoms and rights of Hong Kong residents have been fully guaranteed while Hong Kong's democratic process has been advancing gradually in line with the Basic Law, Kong added.

The spokesman said the Chinese Government has always been maintaining that Hong Kong develops a democratic system according to its actual conditions.

"We will join our efforts with people of all circles in Hong Kong to build a more prosperous and more democratic Hong Kong in line with the principle of 'one country, two systems'," he concluded.

In a related development, Yang Wenchang, Beijing's top envoy in Hong Kong, reacted strongly on Wednesday to irresponsible remarks on the Hong Kong matter made by Stephen Bradley, British consul-ceneral to Hong Kong.

Bradley cited that the British Foreign Ministry report as saying on Tuesday that "since the handover of Hong Kong to China, our regular reports to parliament have concluded that generally the 'one country, two systems' have worked well in practice."

However, he stressed that "we feel that we could not come to exactly the same conclusion as we had previously because of what had happened."

Yang said Bradley' accusation was totally groundless and had ulterior motives, which are aimed at instigating the discontents of Hong Kong residents to the central government.

Yang, commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong, cautioned Bradley against making remarks incompatible with his status and called on him to play an active role in the sound development of the Sino-British relations.

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