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Stability vitally important

MOST of those correspondents who write in these columns in support of the Government's constitutional reforms tend to put across one message - China cannot be trusted to give Hongkong the autonomy promised by the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the reform proposals would check autocratic rule by the future Special Administrative Region government.

In other words, they are reiterating the call to abandon the Basic Law without any regard for how China might respond. This line of thinking is not totally constructive, nor is it conductive to resolving the existing impasse between China and Britain. Although no right-minded person will deny that full democracy is the ultimate goal for Hongkong's political development, we need to give careful thought to the following questions: Is the row between Britain and China actually over the political reform package, or the principle of mutual trust between the two countries? What guarantee is there that the reform proposals will contribute to a high degree of autonomy in Hongkong, when China has already stated that any reforms that do not converge with the provisions in the Basic Law will be cancelled in 1997? Is confrontation the best way to achieve democracy for Hongkong? Or is negotiation, in the hope that changes will come about through persuasion and evolution, a better course to take? It took China more than 40 years to arrive at its present stage of economic, political and social development, shouldn't we give it a chance to come round to our way of thinking? Stability and smooth transition are Hongkong people's prime concerns. Their wishes should be heeded even by those who put democracy above everything else.

W. H. CHAN Happy Valley