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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Handover 9th Anniversary

CE's speech at reception in celebration of 9th Anniversary of establishment of HKSAR
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Government Press Release



Following is the translation of the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the reception in celebration of the Ninth Anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region this morning (July 1):

Distinguished guests, friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. I feel honoured to celebrate this special occasion with all of you.

Our reunification signifies the realisation of the concepts of "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong people running Hong Kong". In implementing these concepts during the past nine years, we have achieved success while also encountering challenges and difficulties. The concept of "One Country, Two Systems" is an innovative systemic arrangement. Its successful implementation will be historically significant.

The 21st century is the age of globalisation. Distance among peoples and countries has shrunken. At the same time, competition has intensified. The competition among nations concerns not only economic and military power, but also cultural strength. We create a following among nations through our values, culture, policies and systems, and we earn our international status through the strength of our values and systems.

"One Country, Two Systems" is an innovative concept drawn up by the Chinese people. Following the initiative of the late Mr Deng Xiaoping, our national leaders have made tremendous efforts to overcome all hurdles to turn this concept into reality. The determination and perseverance displayed in this process are testimony to the innovative abilities of the Chinese people.

Let us ask ourselves: what can we do for our country? As I see it, one of our most important missions is to ensure the successful implementation of the concepts of "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong people running Hong Kong". We must build a harmonious community in Hong Kong so that the concept of "One Country, Two Systems" will successfully take root here. As our economy gains momentum in its growth, we must grasp the opportunity to keep it in good shape. In doing so, we will not only live up to the expectations that our country holds for Hong Kong, but also demonstrate to the world the diverse strengths, competitiveness and solidarity of the Chinese people.

Now, please join me in a toast. To the rise of our country, and the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hong Kong pro-democracy march draws more than 20,000
by Stephanie Wong
Sat Jul 1, 3:36 PM ET
AFP





More than 20,000 Hong Kong residents took to the streets to demand full democracy for the former British colony, on the ninth anniversary of its handover to China.

Carrying banners that read "Justice, Equality, Democracy, Hope," the protesters flooded out of the gates of Victoria Park in the city center, bound for downtown government offices some three kilometres (two miles) away.

To beating drums, they shouted "We Want Universal Suffrage" and waved colourful placards that read "When will we have a timetable for universal suffrage?"

Protesters representing teachers and other workers as well as anti-racism, animal rights and harbour protection groups were also at the rally.

Police estimated that the turnout was about 28,000, while organisers said 58,000 marched, more than last year's 20,000 people.

Amid fading calls for democracy nine years after the 1997 handover, activists hoped the appearance of retired deputy leader secretary Anson Chan would reignite their once-formidable campaign for universal suffrage.

Chan said that her highly-publicized decision to join the protest was not an act of defiance against the government she once served.

"Today I come to take part in the march in support of democracy but this doesn't mean we are trying to challenge the government," Chan said, flanked by pro-democracy legislators and surrounded by hoards of photographers and reporters.

Wearing a broad-brimmed hat to brave the scorching weather, she dismissed claims that the booming economy had reduced Hong Kongers' hunger for democracy.

"Although the economy has been good it doesn't mean we don't need democracy. I call for people to come out and support democracy," she said, marching with her children in front of a banner that read: "Democracy is Key to Harmony".

Chan was cheered and applauded by the public along the way but was also shouted abuse by an elderly woman which caused brief chaos.

At the march, wheelchair bound protester Xo Kam-mui criticized the Chinese government for its tight control on the territory.

"The Chinese government said they want to build a harmonious and stable society but how can we be prosperous if we aren't allowed to choose our own chief executives? We don't have confidence in the government," he said.

Kwan Chun-yu, 45, who came with his family of four, turned out to fight for what he said was basic human rights.

"This is our right to be able to elect our leaders. A lot of developed countries are allowed this but why should we have to fight for it like this every year?"

In response to Saturday's march, the pro-Beijing camp held a celebration earlier in the day that included performances by Hong Kong-based Chinese troops, cultural groups and local pop stars.

The traditional handover anniversary speech by the city's political leader, Donald Tsang, was interrupted by outspoken pro-democracy legislator Leung Kwok-hung.

Leung, nicknamed Long Hair for his waist-length tresses, was hustled out of the auditorium by police after he began shouting slogans during Tsang's address.

The pro-democracy rallies began in 2003 when more than 500,000 people protested over issues including a proposed anti-subversion law forced upon the city by China. The law was later shelved.

In 2004 hundreds of thousands again marched to push for democracy in the wake of a ruling by China that stymied calls for urgent reform of the electoral system.

The city's chief executive is chosen by an 800-strong, Beijing-backed panel and only half the 60 members of the legislative council are directly elected.

A Hong Kong government spokesman responded to the march with a statement saying it remained committed to greater democratic reforms and would publish new proposals early next year.

"The government has been exploring actively possible models for implementing universal suffrage for selecting the chief executive and the legislative council, and plans to draw conclusions early next year," the statement said.

"The government will make public the report, reflect the conclusions to the central authorities (in Beijing), and then commence the next stage of work," it said.
 

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Protest again???

To be honest, asking for more democracy is a good thing. But doing it on the day of the Anniversary of handover is a bit too unrespective and unconsiderate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A divided electorate on Hong Kong anniversary
By Ng Tze-wei The New York Times
SUNDAY, JULY 2, 2006

HONG KONG Nine years after Hong Kong's return to China, despite a recovered economy, universal suffrage once again dominates the political debate in Hong Kong.

It also appears to have split Hong Kong's residents into two camps: more than 45,000 jubilant residents participated in a carnival parade in the morning organized by pro-Beijing groups celebrating the territory's reunification with the mainland, and roughly an equal number of eager protesters took to the streets in a pro-democracy march in the afternoon, demanding solutions to a number of issues, above all universal suffrage.

Currently, Hong Kong's chief executive is elected by indirect vote through a 800-member electoral college. And only half of the seats in the Legislative Council are directly elected. Universal suffrage would change this to mean one-person, one-vote.

Anson Chan, the chief secretary who oversaw Hong Kong's transition from British colonial rule to the early years of self-governance and who remains a popular figure here, took part in the pro-democracy march. Flanked by family members and encircled by a solid ring of volunteers who locked arms to protect her, she slowly inched along the protest route as a tightly packed crowd cheered her on, with photographers and reporters surrounding her whenever she stopped.

The pro-democracy march drew close to half a million participants in 2003 and 2004, when Hong Kong was caught in an economic downturn in the Asian financial crisis and the SARS epidemic, and residents objected to a proposed stringent internal security bill. Last year, the buoyant economy and the naming of the popular Donald Tsang as the replacement for the former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa helped keep the number of participants down to about 20,000.

Chan, who worked as chief secretary when Tsang was financial secretary, announced one week before this year's march that she would participate. She then worked with pro-democracy legislators, urging people to take to the streets to continue fighting for universal suffrage.

China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997; under an agreement between Britain and China, the territory retains its own laws and political system. The Basic Law, the mini-constitution of Hong Kong, guarantees that the territory will have universal suffrage, although it does not specify when.

Hailed by her supporters as "the conscience of Hong Kong," Chan, who left the government in 2001, first took to the streets in a march on Dec. 4 calling for universal suffrage, in response to an electoral reform proposed by the government that was criticized by pro-democracy legislators as insufficient. The march drew 100,000 people, and the proposal was voted down later that month.

In spite of this political stumble, the Tsang-led government has otherwise enjoyed relatively high popularity, with unemployment at its lowest point since 2003 and the government running a surplus for the first time since 1997. Tsang enjoys an average popularity rating of 60 percent to 70 percent, as compared to Tung's 48 percent when he resigned in March 2005.

"Continued economic growth and improvement of people's lives, which are the enduring driving force behind Hong Kong's social progress, offers the fundamental solution to Hong Kong's problems and challenges," said Jia Qinglin, the fourth-ranked official in the Communist Party, who was in Hong Kong to announce further benefits for Hong Kong manufacturers and service providers under a 3-year-old trade pact.

Chan, speaking on a radio show broadcast for four consecutive days after Jia's comments, said a vibrant economy is not enough.

"In the hearts of the Hong Kong people, economic benefit cannot replace a democratic system," Chan said. She urged the Hong Kong government to move more quickly toward universal suffrage.

She further said that although the central government had followed promises made under the Basic Law in the early stage of reunification, "there have been a number of obstacles in recent years resulting in a loss of the people's confidence in the central government."

Despite a survey released by the Public Opinion Program at the University of Hong Kong last week showing that positive feeling about the mainland's policies toward Hong Kong has shot up by 20 percentage points to 56 percent, its highest point since the poll was begun in 1999, Chan said that a survey about specific policies might produce different results.

Her unprecedented high-profile participation in the march this time, and her cooperation with pro-democracy lawmakers, have sparked speculation that she is using the march to test the waters or build support for a possible run for chief executive in 2007. But Chan said that her "sole purpose was to support democracy" and that she has no intention of replacing Tsang. But she would not rule out running, saying that she would "see one step, take one step."

Some attribute the higher turnout at the march to the "Anson effect."

"What she said is not new," said Louise Liu, 27, who has worked as a teacher for year, "but the fact that she comes to the march provides it a clear goal." Liu was not planning to come to the march until Chan announced her decision to join.

However, political analysts believe that the "Anson effect" was limited.

"The number 40,000 is an interesting point. There's a reason for everyone to feel happy: the Chinese government, Tsang, the democrats and Chan," said James Lap-kung Sung, a professor at City University of Hong Kong.

He explained that the turnout was small compared to the march in December and the first two July 1 marches, to the relief of the government, yet shows a significant enough rebound from the low participation in last year's march to comfort the democrats and Chan.

"Whoever is seeking to run against Mr. Tsang should consider the rules of the game. It's a small-circle election," Chan was quoted by a Hong Kong newspaper last week.

Under the current election arrangements, she would need to garner at least 100 nominations from the 800-member electoral college, which consists mainly of Beijing-friendly electors.

Whether the turnout at the march will be sufficient to persuade Chan to run for chief executive is difficult to tell, Sung said. However, he said he believed that if the loosely united democratic front wanted to nominate someone to run against Tsang, it would most likely be Chan.

Timothy Ka-ying Wong, research associate professor of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, agreed that Chan's participation has encouraged more people to come out, but said the people's desire for universal suffrage is concrete. "The July 1 march is only more or less a continuance of the Dec. 4 march."

An interpretation of the Basic Law in 2004 by the National People's Congress states that a general election of the chief executive and the Legislative Council cannot take place in 2007 or 2008. The government put forward an alternative proposal, but pro-democracy legislators rejected it because the percentage of openly elected seats remained the same and because no timetable for universal suffrage was presented, which resulted in an impasse.

Not surprisingly, participants in the parade and the march held different views on universal suffrage.

"We want universal suffrage for better livelihood, not for the mere sake of having universal suffrage," said a sweating C.K. Cheung, an office clerk, who joined the celebration parade with his wife, 12- year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. "It will come at the right time."

At the protest march, others saw it differently.

"It is even more important for there to be universal suffrage now, when there is a good economy," said Lee Yue Nam, 60, who attended the protest march with his two grandsons. "It is not easy to maintain" good economic results, he said.

"It is understandable that both these sentiments have strengthened," Wong said. However, he said, "I don't think this will divide the society, as Hong Kong people are rational. To a certain extent, these two voices have always co- existed and interacted."

Wong said he believed the division would not last in the long term, because the government is required to move toward universal suffrage under the terms of the Basic Law.

"We remain fully committed to and determined to promoting democratic development in accordance with the Basic Law, and attaining the ultimate aim of universal suffrage in the light of the actual situation in Hong Kong," the government said in a statement in response to the march. It said it planned to draw conclusions on possible models for implementing universal suffrage early next year.
 

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For those of you looking for photos & videos of the recent Hong Kong protest they can be found here starting on post#54 >>> Hong Kong Protest The mods have told me ....This thread is not the place for political discussion.









Scenes from a gala held to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland at the Hong Kong Coliseum, July 1, 2019.



The gala kicked off with a group singing of the national anthem of China and included songs and dances by artists from various regions. (Photos: China News Service/XieGuanglei)

 
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