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HK democracy is a gradual process
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-27 22:08

China central authority officials stressed Monday evening that the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) concerning Hong Kong's election methods in 2007 and 2008 is of paramount importance in guiding Hong Kong's constitutional development.

Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee, Li Fei, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, and Xu Ze, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said facts prove that the central authorities have always attached great importance to and strongly supported the advancement of Hong Kong's democratic process.

He said it is the central authorities' responsibility to implement the principle of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong," and high degree of autonomy, as well as to maintain Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.

Qiao, Li and Xu, at the invitation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the SAR, arrived here Monday afternoon to attend two forums on the NPC Standing Committee's decision on Hong Kong's constitutional development.

The NPC Standing Committee decided Monday morning that the method of universal suffrage shall not apply to the election of the chief executive of the HKSAR in 2007, nor to the election of all members of the Fourth Legislative Council in 2008.

Qiao said at the forums that the NPC Standing Committee listened to the opinions of NPC deputies from Hong Kong, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from Hong Kong, various circles in the Hong Kong society, Hong Kong representatives in the HKSAR Basic Law Committee, the HKSAR Constitutional Development Task Force and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

The NPC Standing Committee in its deliberation fully noticed the recent attention paid by Hong Kong society to methods for selecting both the chief executive and the Legislative Council.

Qiao noted that to advance Hong Kong's democracy process has been the guiding principle for the central authorities all along.

Hong Kong residents have enjoyed unprecedented democratic rights since the establishment of the HKSAR, which have all been achieved by the support of the central authorities, said Qiao.

"The central authorities will, as in the past, put forward Hong Kong's democratic process in accordance with the Hong Kong Basic Law," said Qiao.

Qiao said, advancing Hong Kong's democracy is the central authorities' consistent stance.

To ensure that Hong Kong residents exercise their rights as masters after Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the central authorities announced that a democratic election system would be practiced in Hong Kong, he said.

He said promoting Hong Kong's democracy gradually is the most important essence of the Basic Law and an important part of "Hong Kong People governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy.

Qiao said the Basic Law not only adopts a clear and definite short term development plan for Hong Kong's democratic development, but also drafts the long-term plan for Hong Kong's democratic development, which indicates the central authorities' determination and confidence in continuously promoting democracy in Hong Kong.

He stressed that, without a doubt, Hong Kong is enjoying the highest level of democracy since its return to the motherland while all achievements were made with the support of the central authorities.

He promised that the central authorities will continue to provide support to advance the democratic process in Hong Kong, in accordance with the Basic Law.

Qiao said, Hong Kong's constitutional development must be promoted on the track of the Basic Law, in accordance with the actual situation.

He stressed that the urgent task for Hong Kong is to make concerted efforts towards the targets outlined by the decision.

Li and Xu also delivered speeches at the forum. They pointed out that Hong Kong's democracy must be promoted in a gradual and orderly process, based on the current political system.

They said the NPC Standing Committee's decision must be implemented with the goal of maintaining Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.

Also at the forum, representatives from various walks of life in Hong Kong expressed their support for the NPC Standing Committee's decision.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said earlier Monday that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government welcomed the NPC Standing Committee's decision.

The two forums were jointly hosted by the HKSAR government and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR.

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