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Selection of Hong Kong Delegates Criticized as Unrepresentative - 2002-12-03


Hong Kong has selected its delegates to China's National People's Congress, but some political analysts are criticizing the selection process, saying the committee that elects the delegates does not represent the people of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa congratulates the 36 delegates selected to join China's National People's Congress.

This is the second group of delegates to be selected since the former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty. Most of those elected are incumbents, but nine are new to the NPC. The delegates were chosen by an electoral panel of 953 people.

The secretary general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, visiting from Beijing, called the election open and fair.

Political scientist Joseph Cheng of Hong Kong's City University criticized the process, saying it is essentially meaningless to the majority of Hong Kong people. "Most people in Hong Kong do not believe that the deputies to the National People's Congress represent their interests. They are largely seen as a kind of honor for members of the pro-Beijing camp," Mr. Cheng said.

He said many members of the election committee also sit on other committees responsible for making political appointments in Hong Kong.

Mr. Cheng said that consequently, the committee is disproportionately made up of pro-Beijing parties. Other political groups are forced to the margins, despite their popularity among Hong Kong residents. "Prominent pro-Beijing figures have accused the pro-democracy camp candidates of not being patriotic enough and therefore not qualified to be elected to the National People's Congress. Such a line has also been repeated in the pro-Beijing press as well," he said.

Others argue that the outcome of the election means little, because Hong Kong's delegates make up a small fraction of the 3,000-member congress.

The delegates, who come from every province in China, are responsible for approving policies almost entirely focused on mainland China.

Hong Kong maintains a separate legal and lawmaking system that functions independently from the mainland.

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