HK opposition demands 'may hurt dialogue'

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HK opposition demands 'may hurt dialogue'
Hong Kong's former legislative council president has criticized some local political groups for asking the central government to make promises beyond its power.

Rita Fan, also a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), said the move may set hurdles in the way of establishing a dialogue between the central government and the opposition party in Hong Kong.

Five lawmakers from two opposition parties resigned last month, hoping to declare the vote in the ensuing by-elections as a "referendum" on the question of moving ahead the timetable set by the NPC Standing Committee for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

The central government liaison office director, Peng Qinghua, has already made his most strongly worded criticism, saying the use of the word "uprising" in these opposition lawmakers' campaign slogan is "intimidating".

In 2007, the NPC Standing Committee set a timetable that the election of the fifth chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR and members of the Legislative Council can be elected through universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020.

"The NPC Standing Committee had made it clear that Hong Kong could have universal suffrage. But it outlined a process through which the views of the Hong Kong people would be collected and a consensus on the election methods would be formed," said Fan.

"Before this process has taken place, no one, including the central government, is in a position to decide for the Hong Kong people what kind of election methods they want," she said.

Responding to some political groups' demand for the central government to "promise" there would be universal franchise in 2017 and 2020, Fan said she thinks "it is very difficult for the central government to make any promise at this point in time".

Fan said the "majority of the Hong Kong people are tired of the argument" over the political development.

"Many say why do we still carry on, wasting such valuable time and resources? We should be building up the community of Hong Kong, improving our living, and developing the economy in conjunction with the Pearl River Delta Region," she said.

"Hong Kong should find a niche for further development," Fan said.

The region and Guangdong province are working out the details for co-operation, which will translate macro-policies in the Outline of the Plan for the Reform & Development of the Pearl River Delta into concrete measures.

Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced last October that new initiatives will be undertaken to develop six industries - education services, medical services, testing and certification services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, as well as cultural and creative industries.

"I hope that Hong Kong will become an integral part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), and that there could be more specific programs and policies that are advantageous to both the Hong Kong SAR and the mainland, thereby enabling the SAR government to plan ahead and implement these programs with confidence," said Fan.

She said the direction for future development should be closely tied with Hong Kong's advantages, including a legal system that guarantees fair treatment of disputes and a highly developed service-orientated economy.

She noted that Hong Kong possesses the basic conditions for developing logistical management that offers arbitration, insurance, and intellectual property registration. Hong Kong also seeks to enter into more exchanges and cooperation with the mainland in the service sector and in medical care.

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