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Hong Kong Reform

A reform plan to change the Basic Law under which Hong Kong is governed has been defeated. The plan would have doubled the eight-hundred member committee that chooses Hong Kong's chief executive. Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, but still enjoys a high level of autonomy from the central government in Beijing.

The proposal was voted down by pro-democracy legislators who said it doesn't go far enough. The opposition wants a specific timetable for when the people of Hong Kong can vote directly for their leader and legislators.

The changes had been proposed by Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's Chief Executive:

"I have stated on several occasions that the passage of the constitutional reform package in no way conflicts with the desire of a road map or timetable beyond 2008. . . .The Basic Law clearly states our ultimate goal is the election of a chief executive and legislature by universal suffrage."

Lee Cheuck-yan, a member of Hong Kong's legislature, says, "In this era of democracy, we cannot see how Hong Kong people can be deprived of equality and one person, one vote." On December 4th, tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong rallied in favor of universal suffrage.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the U.S. "believe[s] the people and the government of Hong Kong should determine the pace and scope of political reform":

"The people of Hong Kong have repeatedly expressed their aspiration for progress towards democracy and their desire for a firm commitment to the implementation of universal suffrage. We support those goals and believe that the sooner a timetable for achieving universal suffrage is established, the better."

"The Hong Kong people, through their commitment to vibrant but peaceful political debate," says State Department spokesman McCormack, "have demonstrated the strength and stability of Hong Kong society."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.