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Zeng: July 1 should be a day for celebration
By Tonny Chan and Eddie Luk (China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-06-30 09:09

Vice-president Zeng Qinghong Tuesday called on Hong Kong people to hold celebrations on July 1 as it is "an uncommon" day.

Hong Kong police attend a flag-raising ceremony to mark the sixth anniversity of the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in this July 1, 2003 file photo. [newsphoto]
"It is not only the birthday of the Communist Party of China, but also the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland," said Zeng, who was winding up an official visit to South Africa.

He asked members of his entourage to applaud for the coming day.

"The lustre of 10,000 diamonds would be outshined by that of Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. No one can take it away from us," he said.

He called on Hong Kong people to strive forward as the "road ahead is long and tasks arduous".

In Hong Kong, a consensus appears to have formed in the community to avoid confrontational politics, an international ratings agency has said. In its latest report on the SAR's economic outlook issued yesterday, Standard & Poor's pointed out recent political disputes would not affect "the prudent financial management and good economic prospects" of Hong Kong.

"Despite its impasse with the government on political and constitutional reforms, the democratic camp seems unlikely to hinder responsible economic and financial policies," it said.

"A general consensus seems to have emerged recently among the public to avoid confrontational politics," it added.

Financial Secretary Henry Tang was cautious when asked if he thought the positive observation of Standard & Poor's would cause less people to turn out in tomorrow's procession.

"I would say that going out to protest is a form of expression and we welcome the people of Hong Kong to express their views in any way they wish as long as it is legal."

Executive Councillor Leung Chun-ying, meanwhile, called on people planning to participate in the demonstration to avoid damaging the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government.

Saying social harmony was what Hong Kong needs most, he reiterated that it would be inappropriate for the demonstrators to chant slogans such as "return power to the people".

Zou Zekai, a deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, said whether the march would be taken as confronting Beijing would depend on the slogans and its theme.

Federation of Hong Kong Industries Chairman Andrew Leung believed lower political heat would benefit economic development.

Constitutional development should move ahead in a gradual and orderly manner, he said.

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