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News: Democracy in Hong Kong is deteriorating, Chen says

Democracy in Hong Kong is deteriorating, Chen says

Date:  2005/07/01 14:55:04
SOURCE:  Taiwan News

URL:  http://www.etaiwannews.com/Taiwan/Politics/2005/07/01/1120181626.htm

The level of democracy in Hong Kong has deteriorated rapidly over the past eight years, which shows that the territory has been heavily assimilated by China, said President Chen Shui-bian (’…G) on Thursday, stressing that this situation should never happen to the Taiwanese people.

Chen made the remarks on the eve of the eighth anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China on July 1, 1997 while meeting with a delegation from the Hong Kong-based Taiwan Commerce and Industry Association.

Hong Kong, a former British colony of more than 150 years, is now ruled under China's "one country two systems formula," and will maintain its capitalistic and democratic status quo for at least 50 years, as promised by ex-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (û¹¬•½).

Chen said in his speech that the Chinese government had apparently infringed on the autonomy of Hong Kong as well as the independence of Hong Kong's justice system and freedom of speech, although China insisted that Hong Kong would be administered by its people and would be allowed a high degree of autonomy.

At least 163 cases of China violating the rights of Hong Kong's people have been reported so far, Chen said.

"The so-called 'one country, two systems' is empty words," Chen said. "If 'one country' is true, then the 'two systems' is false," he added.

"Over the eight years, Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world where freedom and rule of law have rapidly deteriorated. This should serve as a warning to people who love and respect democracy and peace," Chen said.

"The same thing should never happen to the Taiwanese people."

While extending his congratulations to Hong Kong's new chief executive Donald Tsang, Chen said, "Tsang was elected by a small group of 800 people, and what's more, he was elected unchallenged under Beijing's intervention."

In this by-election process, 6.8 million Hong Kong people were stripped of their fundamental political right and were prevented from protesting and making noise," said Chen.

"Hong Kong is a super-modern and prosperous society but is shackled by a heavy yoke of autocracy and dictatorship dating back to the medieval period," Chen said.

Tsang succeeded Tung Chee-hwa (“ŸŒš‰Ø), who brought his turbulent eight-year tenure to an early end in March. But Chen said Hong Kong's problems over the past eight years were not due to Tung but "the whole system."

Chen also voiced concern over the arrest of Ching Cheong in China, a 55-year-old Hong Kong-based reporter with Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, on espionage charges.

The Hong Kong government rejected Chen's remarks following his speech on Thursday.

"The comments made in Taiwan do not accord with reality...it is a well recognized fact that 'One Country, Two Systems' has been successfully implemented since reunification and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative region in 1997," a spokesman said.

"Freedoms, human rights, the rule of law and an independent judiciary are fully protected in Hong Kong."

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council also issued a situation analysis report on Hong Kong on Thursday, saying that Hong Kong is undergoing an imperceptible but real change about the way the government deals with democracy, despite China's guarantee of freedom and democracy.

Hong Kong's relations with Taiwan has also suffered because of that, the report said.

Members of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong who are friendly to Taiwan and support island's crusade of having say on its future are put under threat, with political careers in jeopardy, the report said.

"Pro-democratic activists were beaten up in broad daylight. Radio hosts supporting democratic movement were being threatened and their programs canceled," MAC said in its report.

Activities held by pro-democratic groups could not insurance and so could not get permission to hold activities, the report indicated.

News censorship, a rare phenomenon in democratic countries and territories, is now commonplace in Hong Kong, the report added.

The MAC report indicated that media bosses in Hong Kong became aware of news contents involving Taiwan as well as places such as Tibet and Xinjiang Province and had launched a self-censorship regarding news report.

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