Mainland rules out monitor role
LINDA CHOY in Beijing
There is no plan for the mainland to send a delegation to monitor the first Legislative Council elections in May, Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen said yesterday.
At a press conference where he announced he would step down as Foreign Minister, Mr Qian said the elections were solely a matter for the SAR Government.
Apart from finalising the methods, the SAR has also been entrusted with the organisation and preparation of the polls.
Mr Qian said there was no need to send officials to monitor the elections.
He stressed his belief that the polls would be conducted in a fair, impartial and open manner.
Mr Qian predicted greater development in 'all areas' of Sino-British relations after the handover. However, 'to say that Hong Kong can serve as a bridge between China and Britain does not mean that China has to go through Hong Kong in dealing with Britain or vice versa', he said.
Development and growth would be enhanced, particularly with the visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair later this year and the visit of the new Chinese prime minister to London to attend the Euro-Asian summit in April, he noted.
Meanwhile, Mr Qian issued a reminder yesterday that SAR deputies to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference were not in Beijing to discuss Hong Kong matters.
He said their task was to take part in national politics on behalf of the Hong Kong people, although they were free to speak as individuals.