- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Praising Hong Kong

Edward Yau has been director-general of the Hong Kong office in Washington for less than three months, and he already has a diplomatic victory to celebrate.

Mr. Yau this week praised a new State Department report that concludes Hong Kong remains free four years after Britain returned its former colony to communist China.

He even suggested the report could improve "your summer reading list."

The report to Congress notes only one troubling development: Hong Kong's treatment of the Falun Gong movement, which has been outlawed in mainland China where authorities condemn it as an "evil cult."

While Hong Kong permits the sect to operate on the island, officials have compared it to "notorious cults abroad," the State Department said.

"The severest test of Hong Kong's human rights record and autonomy was [Chinese] pressure on Hong Kong to curb the Falun Gong," the report said.

The report warned that the Hong Kong government's decision to study "anti-cult legislation raises concerns" among human rights advocates.

"Such legislation could endanger freedom of belief, conscience and expression in Hong Kong," the report said.

Otherwise, the State Department noted that Hong Kong remains "one of the freest cities in Asia."

Mr. Yau, said in a statement, "We note the report's overall positive assessment of developments in Hong Kong in particular in categorical terms that Hong Kong's promised high degree of autonomy, in both economic and noneconomic matters, has proved to be a reality."

"I am glad that the report recognizes that Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty has remained one of the 'freest cities in Asia' and 'one of the world's most open and dynamic economies,' operating with high degrees of autonomy, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, well-respected civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly, an independent civil service, level playing field and a robust and exceptionally transparent export controls system," Mr. Yau said.

The report concluded that "the United States has substantial interests in Hong Kong [and] continues to accord Hong Kong a special status distinct from the rest of China."


Pakistan's 'new dawn'

Pakistan Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi yesterday celebrated her country's national day by reading a message from Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who promised a "new dawn" for the South Asian nation.

"'It is my firm belief that with honesty of purpose and single-minded devotion to the national cause, we are bound to succeed in our mission of restoring Pakistan to its rightful place in the comity of nations,'" Miss Lodhi said, quoting Gen. Musharraf.

Gen. Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and declared himself president in June, promised to continue "structural reforms" that will lead to the return of civilian government by October 2002.

The United States has been critical of his regime, and U.S. policy is tilting to India, Pakistan's regional rival.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Embassy announced that Foreign Secretary Inam ul-Haque, who is visiting Washington, will hold a 6:30 p.m. news conference Friday at the embassy at 2315 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

He will also address invited guests at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars earlier Friday.


Bahrain's appeal

Bahrain yesterday urged the U.S. ambassador to carry a message to Washington to get more involved in the Middle East to stop the violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

"The U.S. administration must perform its role in helping to achieve a just and comprehensive peace," Foreign Minister Sheik Mohammed Bin Mubarak Khalifa told Ambassador Johnny Young.

He complained about the "constant Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people as well as their lands and their national establishments, including Orient House [the Jerusalem headquarters of the Palestinian authority]."

He said nothing about Palestinian suicide bombers attacking Israeli civilians.

Bahrain, a close ally of the United States, is the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide