Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chinese official warns HK lawmakers against backing Taiwan's independence

AFP AND CNA , HONG KONG

A senior Chinese official yesterday warned rebellious Hong Kong lawmakers against supporting Taiwan's independence, insisting they should advocate unification.

Zou Zhekai (鄒哲開), deputy director of the Beijing Liaison Office in Hong Kong, was reported as saying lawmakers who recently took part in political activities in Taipei were making a "complete mistake if they advocate Taiwan independence."

Zou, whose comments came as he joined a Hong Kong group on a Beijing trip, said legislators should stick to the "one country" concept which they pledged to uphold when they were sworn in under the territory's Basic Law.

Zou did not mention names in his comments, which came just days after two pro-democracy lawmakers, Emily Lau (劉慧卿) and James To (涂謹申), attended a seminar in Taipei.

The official China Daily newspaper criticized both for openly supporting pro-independence forces in Taiwan, but its claims were rejected by both Lau and To.

Meanwhile, media in the territory reported that representatives of Hong Kong's Bar Association had been excluded from a visit to Beijing organized by the Liaison Office because of their criticism of proposed new security laws.

Bar Association chairman Edward Chan (陳景生) told reporters that neither he nor other members of the council had been invited to join the 40-strong Hong Kong delegation which met justice ministry officials in Beijing on Monday.

"It could be that they had a deliberate policy to marginalize the Bar. [Or] it could be that they wanted to invite people whose views they feel they do not know -- and perhaps the Bar has already made its position so clear it is no longer thought necessary to invite us," Chan told the South China Morning Post.

Association members were prominent participants in a mass protest last month against proposed anti-subversion laws and have been vocal in debate over the legislation.

The bill was shelved by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) after more than 500,000 people marched through the streets in protest.

Critics and opponents of the legislation have said the bill threatened Hong Kong's political, religious and media freedoms.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post said in Thursday's editorial that China should let Hong Kong people have more democracy.

In the editorial, titled "Democracy for Hong Kong," the paper said the massive demonstrations last month in support of democracy and against the anti-sedition law do not seem to have shocked China's rulers enough to accept the remedy for the dilemma, which would be more democracy.

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