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Hong Kong Leader Urges Calm - 2004-04-26


Hong Kong's leader is urging citizens to be calm and rational in their response to China's ruling today (Monday) against direct elections in the territory.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa told reporters that Hong Kong residents should strive harder to reach a consensus on the future constitutional development of the territory.

Chinese officials had cited differing opinions among various groups in Hong Kong as one reason for their refusal to allow direct election of the next chief executive in 2007 and the legislature in 2008.

The ruling by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing quashed the hopes of Hong Kong democracy activists that residents would be given the right to directly elect the territory's leader and all of its lawmakers.

Democracy activists in Hong Kong criticized the decision, saying it goes against the mainland's promise of a high degree of autonomy under the "one country, two systems" policy adopted when the territory moved from British control to Chinese rule in 1997.

Mr. Tung has been elected twice by an 800-member election committee that answers to Beijing. Only half of the 60 members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council are directly elected.

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