British FCO Minister Comments on Article 23 of the Basic Law, "The Devil is in the Details"

Apple Daily reported on January 17, 2003 that in the face of the Hong Kong government's wilful and stubborn refusal to submit a White Bill for proposals to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law, after a two day visit to Hong Kong, the recently elected Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister, Mr. Bill Rammell strongly expressed to three major Hong Kong government officials that the British government hopes the special district government will conduct a thorough and wide consultation and proceed with caution on the enactment process; otherwise the international community will have less confidence in Hong Kong, which would have negative impact on Hong Kong.

Although the Hong Kong government didn't exclude the possibility of publishing the details of the law and conducting another consultation before submitting the Blue Bill to the legislature, the government didn't make the corresponding promise.

Requesting Consultation Before the Blue Bill

Bill Rammell, the UK FCO Minister in charge of China-Hong Kong affairs, who was appointed to this position three months ago, arrived in Hong Kong two days ago. This is the third stop of his first official visit to China. His first two stops were in Beijing and Shanghai. Mr. Rammell expressed his concern to Donald Tsang, the Financial Secretary, Elsie Leung, Secretary for Justice, and Regina Ip, Secretary for Security, regarding contents of the consultation document such as "to prohibit communications with foreign political organisations," "secession," and "the law's application outside Hong Kong."

As for whether the Hong Kong government should use the White Bill, Mr. Rammell repeatedly emphasised, "The devil is in the details!" The UK government will comment after the details have been published. He said whether the consultation is called a "White Bill" is not important as long as the Hong Kong government publishes the details of the law and conducts a consultation before the Blue Bill.

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