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Hong Kong Rulers Should 'Mostly Be Patriots'

An official in Beijing said yesterday that Hong Kong should be governed mainly by patriotic people.

He made the remark immediately after Hong Kong's taskforce on constitutional development concluded its three-day visit to the Chinese capital.

The taskforce, headed by Chief Secretary Donald Tsang, arrived in Beijing on Sunday to consult the central government on constitutional development in Hong Kong.

The central government official, whose name has not been released, said that constitutional reform in Hong Kong must be conducive to the consolidation and perfection of the city's executive-led governmental system.

The official, from "a relevant central government department", stressed that "One Country" is the premise of "Two Systems", according to Xinhua.

"Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" means governance by mostly patriotic people," he said.

The official said a "high degree of autonomy" should be practised, but with the power conferred by the central government.

The SAR's political system should be commensurate with its legal status as a local administrative region that is directly under the jurisdiction of the central government, he said.

The methods for selecting the future chief executives and members of the Legislative Council must tally with the provisions of the Basic Law, the actual situation in Hong Kong and the gradualism principle.

They should also be conducive to the consolidation and perfection of the executive-led governmental system and to even participation by different sectors of society in the governance of Hong Kong, he added.

When considering this issue, the central government's main objective is to preserve the SAR's long-term prosperity and stability, he reiterated.

Meanwhile, a mainland legal expert, who met with the taskforce on Monday, urged Hong Kong people not to introduce one-person-one-vote in a rush.

According to the Basic Law, the introduction of universal suffrage in the election of the chief executive and formation of the legislature is the "ultimate aim" after gradual and orderly democratic progress and in the light of the actual situation in Hong Kong, said Xu Chongde, one of the major drafters of the Basic Law.

He said that public opinion in Hong Kong is exerting much pressure on the Tung Chee-hwa administration on this issue. Calls for universal suffrage in Hong Kong are "so hot, as if it will take place immediately", he said.

"But it is unrealistic to accomplish it in one go."

"Democracy does not necessarily equate to direct election, which is only one form of democracy," said Xu.

He asked Hong Kong people to be cautious about the motives of some locals who have been fanning up emotions and asking everyone to take to the streets.

He made the remark as the Hong Kong taskforce ended its Beijing visit yesterday with "goals achieved". During two days, the team completed three sets of meetings "we had scheduled to secure", Tsang said. "I think we have achieved our goal."

"We have discerned the matters of concern to the central government," he told reporters, adding that the team also forwarded the opinions of Hong Kong people on improvement of the existing political systems to the central government.

The taskforce will set up a website next week to seek public views on those issues relating to principles and legislative process in the Basic Law. The issues will be presented in the form of questions.

(China Daily February 11, 2004)

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