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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Press at odds over Hong Kong move
China's parliament - the National People's Congress
A shift in the balance of power

The decision by a Chinese parliamentary committee that Beijing has the final say over Hong Kong's political future has sparked a fierce debate in the region's press.

Some Hong Kong dailies are up in arms over the decision, while other papers feel Hong Kong politicians should pursue a softly-softly approach and seek to negotiate with China.

The following comments have been selected from local newspapers.

Dark day for SAR [Special Administrative Region]... This is the politics of a bully masquerading as law. That is nothing new in China. But for the rulers in Beijing to apply it to the SAR is like infecting the territory with a deadly plague... Beijing has shown its contempt for the people of Hong Kong and their aspirations... It is bad for Hong Kong, but it is bad for China, too, because it will not allow Beijing to benefit from the lessons of a smooth transition to democracy in the SAR

The Standard - Hong Kong

It can be affirmed that this interpretation of the Basic Law is extremely significant and profound, will certainly be helpful for Hong Kong people to better understand the relationship between 'one country' and 'two systems', better understand relations between the central government and the SAR, and better understand the authoritative status of the central government and the Basic Law.

Ta Kung Pao (Beijing-backed daily) - Hong Kong

Perceptive people all see that this interpretation of the Basic Law is actually changing the rules of the game, shutting out Hong Kong people's demands for democracy, and adding checkpoint after checkpoint on the road towards general elections.

Apple Daily - Hong Kong

The procedures and content of the draft 'Basic Law' interpretation, which was automatically passed by a show of hands in the NPC Standing Committee yesterday, signify that one country, two systems, Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong and a high degree of autonomy are being pushed to their death.

Columnist Lee Yee in Apple Daily

We believe that the NPC Standing Committee had the absolute authority to interpret the Basic Law, but the interpretation of the Basic Law was a final solution and a dose of strong medicine. A medicine has after-effects if it is too strong, and it should have only been used as a last resort.

Ming Pao - Hong Kong

The NPC interpretation of the Basic Law has still left a certain amount of space for constitutional development. Even though the democrat faction has vigorously opposed it, the right way for Hong Kong people should be listening respectfully to the views of the other side, communicating as much as possible, trying to convince the other party to accept their views and doing their utmost to establish mutual trust with the central government.

Singtao Daily - Hong Kong

Anyone who challenges the content of the NPC interpretation of the Basic Law is violating the spirit of the rule of law. This is also irresponsible behaviour. It must also be seen that the NPC interpretation of the Basic Law is certainly not aimed at stopping discussions on constitutional development and 'shutting out Hong Kong's constitutional development', but at dispelling doubts and ending struggles, enabling further discussions on constitutional development to have the most authoritative legal basis; and enabling Hong Kong's constitutional development to have the most solid legal foundation.

Wen Wei Po (Beijing-backed daily) - Hong Kong

It is undeniable that constitutional development in 2007 now has a track to follow and a major ambiguous factor in economic development has been swept away after the interpretation of the Basic Law. Democracy advocates will face a situation of birdcage politics in the next few years. Beijing has firmly grasped the initiative in political reform, and if the democrat faction wishes to achieve anything politically, they must start talks, mend relations and increase mutual trust with the central government as fast as possible.

Hong Kong Economic Journal

One only has to grasp the principle that the Hong Kong SAR is a local administrative region directly under the Central People's Government and Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy stems from the central government's authorization... This important move... is conducive to maintaining Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability

Renmin Ribao (People's Daily, Chinese Communist Party newspaper) - Beijing

The central government has the final say.

Hong Kong edition of Beijing's China Daily

Yesterday's interpretation of the Basic Law has changed the rules of the game... But the door to change, even in 2007, has been left tantalisingly open. Hong Kong must now think carefully about how to make the most of this opportunity. In all negotiations on Hong Kong's future, Beijing has insisted that it is in control. If it is to loosen control, it must be persuaded: a deal must be done.

South China Morning Post - Hong Kong

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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