Promises made by China about the future of Hong Kong will be tested by actions, not words, Mr Lu said yesterday. 'Actions speak louder than words. There are less than 400 days to go before the handover. You'll see whether the Basic Law is fully implemented,' he said. 'Action will show whether what I've said counts and is being practised,' he said, at the end of his Tokyo visit, first stop on a week-long trip to Japan. Mr Lu was answering a question about anxiety and suspicion among Japanese and the international community in general over the handover, which exist despite repeated assurances. 'It's natural. 'One country, two systems' is a new thing - never seen in history. Our friends would like to wait and see,' he said. Mr Lu said the Japanese could show support for Hong Kong by continuing to invest in the territory. He denied the end of British rule would mark the end of democracy in Hong Kong. 'I disagree with what they say. July 1, 1997, will mark the real beginning of democracy. There's been no democracy in the territory during the more than a century of British rule.' He said Hong Kong people would be able to decide whether the chief executive and the whole legislature should be chosen by universal elections by the year 2007 under the Basic Law. 'This is absolutely impossible under British rule,' he said. Mr Lu said that China had adopted a 'gradual and orderly' manner for democratic development in the territory in view of the lack of a 'tradition of democracy'. 'Like any other country, it takes a long time for the growth of democracy. It cannot be done overnight. 'On the political front, we oppose internationalising the Hong Kong question. 'Hong Kong is part of China. How to handle Hong Kong issues is a domestic affair of China. 'We don't want any foreign countries to meddle in our domestic affairs,' he said. Asked how he felt about Britain now its days of colonial rule were virtually over, Mr Lu said: 'It's the legacy of history. We don't count old scores and even if we did, it would be difficult to make a clear count. 'Everyone should look forward. We sincerely hope the Chinese and British governments can closely co-operate on the Hong Kong issue to achieve a smooth transition,' he said. Mr Lu said he had no knowledge of whether Tung Chee-hwa, one of China's top advisers, was interested in running for the post of chief executive. 'He has never said anything about it,' he said. Mr Lu had been asked whether Mr Tung's quitting the Executive Council this week was linked to plans to contest the top post. It has been suggested Mr Tung has told Beijing he is not interested in the post.