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HK election needs approval from central government
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-09 09:54

A Chinese legal expert on Saturday refuted the assumption that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)can choose the general election of its legislators after 2007 without the approval of the central government.

Shao Tianren, a counselor with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who took part in drafting the Basic Law of HKSAR, made the response in reaction to a recent misinterpretation by some people in Hong Kong. Those people said that if the HKSAR wishes to generally elect all local legislators, it is not necessary for the central government to approve.

On February 28, 1994, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that there are specific stipulations in Article 68 of the Basic Law and the law's Appendix II and Appendix III on whether the Legislative Council of the HKSAR will introduce a general election after 2007, and such an issue will be decided by the HKSAR. And there should be no pledge from the central government whatsoever.

Contorting the statement, some people in Hong Kong now interpret that the Chinese Government overtly and explicitly proclaimed that if the HKSAR wants to elect all members of its Legislative Council by universal suffrage after 2007, there is no need to obtain approval from the central government.

Shao explained that during the negotiations between China and Britain in the early 1990s, Britain proposed that the Chinese Government backs general election of the HKSAR Legislative Council in 2007 if the HKSAR agrees to do so.

The proposal meant that the Chinese central government should pledge unconditional support for the demand of the HKSAR for the general election of the Legislative Council in any circumstances, Shao said.

The proposal was surely rejected by the Chinese Government, since it will harm China's sovereignty if accepted, and constitute contempt of Chinese law, the legal expert said.

The statement made by the Foreign Ministry spokesman clearly showed that whether the Legislative Council should be established through general election after 2007 should be decided in accordance with the principles and procedures enshrined in Article 68 of the Basic Law and its Appendices, and with the actual conditions in the HKSAR, Shao said.

The statement was also an expression of the Chinese Government's sovereignty to decide on the HKSAR's political system, and there is no obligation for China to make a pledge on this matter.

In other words, the statement should not be interpreted as the central government's giving up its responsibility and power over Hong Kong's political system, which are stipulated in China's Constitution and the HKSAR Basic Law.

Even more, it should not be used to infer that HKSAR does not have to ask the central government for approval if it wishes to elect all the members of its Legislative Council through universal suffrage.

Shao also accused some legislators in Hong Kong of violating the Basic Law, since they have joined organizations aiming to overthrow the central government after Hong Kong's return to the motherland in 1997, or declared in public that they opposed the Basic Law and made remarks in support of "Taiwan independence."

If necessary, the revision of methods of electing the HKSAR's chief executive and Legislative Council requires the conscientious review of some articles of the Basic Law, said Shao.

Shao concluded that the development of Hong Kong's political system will not deviate from the right path so long as the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law are implemented comprehensively.

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