Hong Kong's new leaders offer reassuring words
Jiang, Tung outline visions for future
July 1, 1997
Web posted at: 12:18 a.m. EDT (0418 GMT)
HONG KONG (CNN) --- Just hours after troop-laden armored personnel carriers rolled into Hong Kong, the president of China and the head of the newly-minted regional government offered ringing reassurances that Hong Kong's way of life and freedoms will be preserved.
"Our vision of Hong Kong is a society proud of its national identity and cultural heritage -- a stable, equitable, free, democratic and compassionate society with a clear sense of direction," said Tung Chee-hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or SAR, during a major address given at a Tuesday morning reception.
"No department or locality may, or will be allowed to, interfere in the affairs which should be administered by [the SAR] on its own," said Chinese President Jiang Zemin, speaking at the same event. He said the central government had "full confidence" in the ability of Hong Kong to administer its own affairs.
New leaders: Show 'love for the motherland'
But both Jiang and Tung also called on the people of Hong Kong to join their new "motherland" with patriotic enthusiasm and a willingness to work for the country's overall benefit.
"Citizens of Hong Kong, this is our mission," said Tung. "There is before us a heavy responsibility and a long way to go. Our country has given us a high degree of autonomy and her full support. Now is the time for us to apply our intelligence and work arduously for a better future."
"Hong Kong compatriots will surely display great love for the motherland and for Hong Kong and take it as their utmost honor to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and safeguard the fundamental interests of the country," Jiang said.
In his speech, Jiang promised a gradual development of democracy in Hong Kong, leading eventually to a government picked by universal suffrage. Tung and the current SAR legislature were selected in a process which critics say was orchestrated in Beijing.
Jiang also pledged that the SAR would retain full power to operate a separate economy and its own systems of trade and taxation. To international expatriates living in Hong Kong, he said the region "will remain their home in the future where they can live in peace and contentment."
Laws to remain 'basically unchanged'
But while stating outright that the capitalist system and way of life in Hong Kong would not change, Jiang used the description "basically unchanged" when referring to the canon of law left behind by the British.
Addressing concerns in Hong Kong and internationally that the Beijing government will reign in dissent, Tung pledged that Hong Kong residents will still retain they freedoms they have enjoyed -- but indicated that those freedoms may now have limits.
"We value plurality, but discourage open confrontation," he said. "We strive for liberty, but not at the expense of the rule of law. We respect minority views but are mindful of wider interests. We protect individual rights but also shoulder collective responsibilities."
"I hope these values will provide a foundation for unity in our society."
In his address, Tung also outlined his ambitious governing agenda for the SAR, calling for improvements in the education system, more and better housing and more attention to programs to take care of Hong Kong's aging population.
And while saying that Hong Kong would remain a bridge between East and West, Tung also issued a ringing call for the people to adopt what he termed "fine traditional Chinese values," including love for family, modesty, integrity and a desire for continuous improvement.
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