UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-315730 Hong Kong / China (L O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=5/8/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=HONG KONG / CHINA (L O)

NUMBER=2-315730

BYLINE=BARRY KALB

DATELINE=HONG KONG

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: China has warned Hong Kong's legislature it has no right to

criticize a ruling by Beijing limiting the development of democracy in

Hong Kong. As Barry Kalb reports from the former British colony, the

warning was the first attempt by Beijing to restrict legislative debate

in Hong Kong since the colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

TEXT: The warning came in a dispatch late Friday from Xinhua, China's

official news agency. It quoted an unnamed Chinese official in Hong

Kong as saying the local legislature had no legal right to criticize the

central government's decision last month ruling out full and direct

elections in 2007 and 2008.

The unnamed official said Hong Kong legislators would be acting illegally and

beyond their authority if they considered any motions that were critical

of the ruling -- or of the Chinese parliament for issuing it.

Under a formula known as "One Country, Two Systems," Hong Kong has

continued since 1997 to enjoy Western-style freedoms, including freedom

of speech, that are denied to citizens on the mainland.

However, the former colony's chief executive is essentially appointed by

Beijing, and only a portion of the seats in the Legislative Council are

directly elected.

Large segments of the Hong Kong public have been clamoring for direct

election of both the chief executive and the legislature, when elections

are next held in 2007 and 2008. The ruling last month denying such

direct elections was the Chinese government's response.

Following Friday's warning, pro-democracy legislators accused Beijing of

limiting Hong Kong's freedom of speech. One activist said Beijing was

rolling back the "high degree of autonomy" Hong Kong was guaranteed at

the time of the handover.

Only hours before the warning was issued, an attempt by legislators to

debate a non-binding motion critical of Beijing's decision was blocked

by the Legislative Council president.

Several hundred thousand Hong Kong residents took to the streets last

July, calling among other things for full democracy. Beijing has

responded by vilifying pro-democracy activists, calling them "sinners"

and "unpatriotic." (Signed)

NEB/HK/BK/KL



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list