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FM: HK Political System Progressing Apace
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Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced yesterday that Hong Kong's democratic political system was developing steadily and gradually at a speed suited to its current situation.


Jiang's remarks after British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on Monday called for Hong Kong's leaders on Monday to allow full democracy by bringing universal suffrage to the Special Administrative Region.


In the decade since reunification, the "one country, two systems" has been fully implemented in Hong Kong with great success, Jiang said, adding that the rights of the HK people were fully safeguarded and the population enjoyed the world's freest economy.


She stated that the central government would continue its unwavering support for the principle of "one country, two systems," would ensure Hong Kong was governed by its own residents and that it is able to retain high autonomy to guide its prosperity and stability.


Jiang also strongly dismissed Western accusations that China's loans to Africa were worsening the continent's debt crisis, calling it "totally unacceptable."


Some non-governmental organizations have slammed China for helping African states build up their infrastructure through a realpolitik which ignores corruption, human rights and environmental protection.


Jiang responded by saying China is trying to help African states improve their self-development capacity without wanting to impose its brand of ideology and social values.


"China holds that Africa's internal affairs should be addressed by their own governments and people, while the assistance from outside should help the African countries achieve stability and development through their own efforts," said Jiang.


On the issue of preferable loans to Africa, Jiang explained that China's loans have no strings attached and China seeks to boost the infrastructure in a fair and open spirit. The spokeswoman denied China was a major creditor nation for Africa and asked developed nations to take more steps in curbing poverty in Africa.


Speaking shortly after the closure of the African Development Bank Group in Shanghai, Jiang asked the international community to "make earnest efforts to reduce the debt of African nations so as to free them from the vicious cycle of debt."


Turning to the China-Germany ties, Jiang said that the upcoming visit to China of the German President would lift the bilateral relationship to new heights.


Jiang said Horst Koehler's China visit would be a "very important" one as it coincides with the 35th anniversary of the establishment of China-Germany diplomatic ties. At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Koehler will visit China from Wednesday to Saturday, his first tour of the country since taking office.


During his stay, Koehler will meet with top Chinese leaders including President Hu, Premier Wen Jiabao and top political advisor Jia Qinglin.


It is in the interests of both states that high-level visits lead to further cooperation in many fields including international affairs, said Jiang, adding that dialogue would lead to better understanding while removing disputes. 


When asked whether the human rights issue might throw a wrench in the visit, Jiang said China and Europe held "positive and constructive" talks during the 23rd round of China-Europe Human Rights Dialogue from May 15 to 16 in Berlin. The 24th round will be held in Beijing later this year.


In another development, Jiang reiterated China's determination to attach great importance to food and drug safety. She illustrated that the government is creating a legal system that will oversee all food and drug safety, and that China welcomes cooperation to this end on the international scene.


Following two incidents when Chinese-made medicinal ingredients killed people in Panama, and tainted pet food was exported to the United States, the country's health record in food and drug safety has come under severe threat. Jiang assured the press that investigations are ongoing.


Jiang also announced that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would attend both a China-Europe foreign ministers' meeting and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) 8th Foreign Ministers' Meeting from May 28 to 29 in Hamburg, Germany. He has been invited by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign minister of Germany, which holds the rotating European Union presidency.


Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand, will also come to China from May 28 to 31, as the guest of Premier Wen.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2007)

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