State leaders set for HK handover visit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2007, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao and another state leader are expected to visit Hong Kong for celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the handover this summer, a local deputy to the National People's Congress said.

Either vice-president Zeng Qinghong or Premier Wen Jiabao were expected to accompany Mr Hu, said Cheng Yiu-tong, convenor of the cross-sector preparatory committee for the anniversary celebrations.

Speaking in Beijing, Mr Cheng said the central government attached high importance to the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

'I believe the protocol would be similar to that in 1997, comprising the president, the vice-president or the premier,' he said.

Former president Jiang Zemin and former premier Li Peng were the two highest state officials to take part in the handover ceremony on June 30, 1997.

Mr Jiang also visited the city to officiate at the fifth anniversary celebrations in 2002.

Li Gang , deputy director of the central government liaison's office, confirmed that state leaders would visit Hong Kong but said it was still unclear who would come.

'The 10th anniversary is a major event. The central government attaches great importance to this,' he said, adding that a visit by state leaders showed Beijing's care for Hong Kong and its wish for the city's continued prosperity.

NPC Standing Committee member Tsang Hin-chi said the president could see for himself the implementation of the Basic Law.

However, fellow NPC deputy Ng Hong-mun said that anniversary celebrations in other regions with self-autonomy were seldom attended by two state leaders.

'It will be a pleasant surprise if we have two visiting state leaders,' he said.

Chief executive candidate Alan Leong Kah-kit said he hoped visiting state leaders would hold talks with pan-democrat legislators on universal suffrage and other governance issues. 'I hope this time we are not just seeing the state leaders from a distance, but having face-to-face dialogue,' he said.