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|Sunday, September 09, 2001, updated at 10:23(GMT+8)|
Hong Kong's Autonomy Going Strong: TsangHong Kong Administrative Secretary Donald Tsang told the US audience that Hong Kong's autonomy is going strong, a government report released by the Information Services Department said Saturday.
Tsang said Hong Kong's promised high degree of autonomy has been a promise kept since its return to China in 1997.
"Our national leaders have scrupulously honored this commitment with their hands-off approach," Tsang told 400 luncheon guests during his first major overseas speaking engagement since taking up his new post in May in Los Angeles.
"This has been acknowledged in reports on Hong Kong by the U.S. State Department, the British Government and the European Commission," he said.
But actions speak louder than words. Recent decisions in Hong Kong on sensitive issues, such as the Falun Gong, have amply illustrated the faithful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong people running Hong Kong", Tsang added.
Tsang said that balancing the interests of two systems within one country was part and parcel of the One Country, Two Systems concept. "There will inevitably be times when we need to give weight to the set of values that the people of Hong Kong espouse and which we need to preserve. I don't see that as a bad thing," he said.
After all, in the U.S., and in other countries such as Canada and Australia, there are often tensions between the Federal Government and the States or Provinces over various issues, he said. Such tensions are regarded as entirely legitimate and normal. They are so commonplace that hardly a second thought is given to the constitutional aspect of such interplay.
Tsang noted that the relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the Central Government was quite different than that between California and the U.S. Government.
"For a start, we do not pay any taxes to, or rely on any funding from, the Central Government," he said.
"We have our own legal system, our own Customs and Immigration regimes, our own passport, our own currency, our own shipping register and negotiate our own air services agreements. We even send separate delegations to APEC and the Olympic Games," he added.
Tsang said it is a natural and positive progression of the relatively new and evolving relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the Central government. "I, for one, think we have done remarkably well in turning this concept into an everyday reality."
He pointed out that Hong Kong people were quick to speak out on matters regarding Hong Kong's autonomy. "This willingness to speak out has, I believe, been central to success of protecting our value system, finding the right balance between One Country and Two Systems, and preserving our autonomy," he said.
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