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U.S. State Department official blasts Hong Kong's Article 23

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December 23 is the last day before the deadline of the consultation period for the proposed legislation of Article 23 in Hong Kong. New Tang Dynasty TV, a New York-based Chinese TV network, interviewed Mr. J. Scott Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Q: State Department has issued a statement regarding Hong Kong’s Article 23 legislation on Nov. 22. While on Dec 10, China’s vice premier Qian Qichen said that “it has nothing to do with them”, this “them” included the US government. How would you respond to that?

A: I think the United States government has joined others in the international community in expressing our concerns over Article 23. And that we have recognized interest in doing so. Hong Kong, as you may or may not know, has over 50,000 American residents living there, we have combined fix assets in Hong Kong of something like 29 billion dollars. So, we do have some concern about what takes place in Hong Kong. But In addition to that, I would say Hong Kong is an international city, which has long been has recognized for its tradition of openness and protection of human rights. That is very important that we continue to pay attention and watch closely what takes place there.

Q: What are some of the key areas of the concerns for US government?

A: Well, I think what we are most concerned about is transparency. We understand that the HK government has the right and the responsibility to consider these issues, but that the citizens themselves also have a right to comment on them. And so I think it is very important that the draft legislation, for instance, be made available to people to look more closely at it. I think that the areas of concern are the same areas of concern that the Hong Kong people themselves have addressed, whether it is the ease for which treason would be raised, or other issues, sedition issues.

Q: Tomorrow is the deadline for the consultation period of the proposed legislation. So do you think there is any concrete measure or venue for the US government to voice this concern?

A: I think that the President himself made it very clear to President Jiang Zemin that this was an issue of concern for the people of the United States of America.. And so I would hope that there would be due consideration given to all points of view of the Hong Kong people so that the consultative process works effectively to give the voice to the people of Hong Kong.

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