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HK condemns Human Rights Watch's report
Updated: 2004-09-09 23:39

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Thursday accused a report by US group Human Rights Watch of painting a distorted picture of the situation in Hong Kong.

In response to a report on Hong Kong released yesterday by the US organization, the spokesman said that Hong Kong remains one of the world's freest societies, a fact which is not just commonly acknowledged in Hong Kong, but also internationally.

Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in 1997, the central authorities have unswervingly upheld their commitment by letting Hong Kong people run Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law, said the spokesman.

"The doubts raised in the report about the commitment of the central authorities to implement 'one country, two systems' are groundless and uncalled for," he said.

"In Hong Kong, our freedoms of speech, of the press, of assembly, of demonstration and in many other areas are constitutionally protected by the Basic Law and supported by the rule of law upheld by an independent judiciary," the spokesman said.

"Anyone who visits Hong Kong will be able to see for themselves that we exercise these freedoms on a daily basis. Any suspected unlawful activities that threaten our freedoms will be pursued by our law enforcement agencies vigorously," he said.

The central government also supports the HKSAR government's efforts to safeguard freedom of expression and of the press in accordance with the law.

"On elections, we take great pride in our fair, open and honest elections. We will not tolerate any illegal acts that may tarnish our reputation in this respect," he said.

"People who have been following Hong Kong's developments closely will be aware that we have taken active and prompt measures to ensure the integrity of the upcoming Legislative Council election on September 12," he said.

"Secret ballots are protected by law. In response to public concern, we have increased the penalties for the offence of taking photographs inside polling stations. Any illegal activities which seek to influence the proper conduct of elections will be vigorously pursued," he said.

On Hong Kong's constitutional development, the spokesman said it has never been intended under "one country, two systems" for the HKSAR, completely on its own, to decide on its political structure. "By constitutional design, the central authorities have the powers and responsibilities to oversee Hong Kong's constitutional development," he said.

"Time and again, our national leaders have expressed support for the development of democracy in Hong Kong and the ultimate aim of universal suffrage. The issue at present is the pace and time for attaining this goal," he said.

He added that "the community will continue to play an important role in Hong Kong's constitutional development. The Constitutional Development Task Force chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration will endeavour to find common ground and build consensus as we take forward our constitutional development process."

The spokesman for the Commissioner's Office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR also refuted the report yesterday.

The spokesman said, the upcoming election of the third Legislative Council is the most democratic one in the history of Hong Kong. However, on the eve of the election, Human Rights Watch issued the report.

The spokesman said the report painted a distorted picture of the situation in Hong Kong, with the purpose of creating divisions between Hong Kong residents and the central government as well as the HKSAR government and hampering the fair and smooth election of the Legislative Council.

He added that the report once more revealed the wicked nature of the Human Rights Watch of being hostile to China and interfering in the affairs of other nations.

The spokesman said therefore, "we are firmly opposed to the report.

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