December 23, 2005

China condemns US comments about Hong Kong

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has accused the United States of
interfering in its internal affairs, criticizing it for
comments calling for Hong Kong to speed up political reforms
and allow direct elections.

"Affairs concerning Hong Kong ... are China's internal
affairs leaving no room for foreign interference," the official
Xinhua news agency late on Friday quoted Foreign Ministry
spokesman Qin Gang as saying.

"The U.S. side has once and again made rash comments on
Hong Kong affairs for quite a period of time, violating the
principle of non-interference in other countries' internal

The remarks came after a U.S. state department spokesman
reiterated earlier comments from Washington calling for an
early timetable for Hong Kong to adopt universal suffrage.

Hong Kong also put out its own response that appeared
directed at the comments from Washington.

"We would not wish any foreign governments to give the
impression that they were meddling in Hong Kong's affairs," the
Hong Kong government said in a statement on Friday.

Earlier this week, pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong
voted against a controversial election reform package, dealing
a blow to the city's leader, Donald Tsang, who argued that the
package was a major step toward democracy.

China regularly defends its right to determine affairs in
Hong Kong and neighboring Macau, former colonies that have
since been returned to the mainland but are run by
semi-autonomous governments.

Free-wheeling Hong Kong, a major financial center, still
cannot directly elect it leader or the entire legislative
chamber and residents have staged large street protests
demanding votes for all.