Constitutional reform in Hong Kong is an internal matter and should not concern the representatives of other nations, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a thinly veiled rebuke aimed at the British government. Although the statement did not mention anyone by name, it was obviously directed at British Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell, who during a visit to Hong Kong last week called for 'early progress' in the transition to full democracy. His comments follow those of US Consul-General James Keith, who drew a similar official reaction two weeks ago when he made an appeal for the introduction of universal suffrage. The Foreign Ministry's statement said Hong Kong's political development is 'the internal affair of China' and its constitutional reform should be carried out 'step by step according to the practical situation' of the region. 'In the past year, some foreign politicians and consuls in Hong Kong voiced some irresponsible words that we strongly oppose,' it said. 'For example, a British foreign ministry official made inappropriate comments on the question of Hong Kong's constitutional development to reporters during his recent visit to Hong Kong.' A spokesman for the office stressed the central government had to deal with Hong Kong affairs in accordance with the 'one country, two systems' principle. Last night Yeung Sum, chairman of the Democratic Party, said: 'The central government should understand that Hong Kong lacks stability now because we do not have universal suffrage.'