15 April 1998

Democratic Party Criticizes Xinhua's Election Interference

News reports today revealed that officials from China's Xinhua News Agency have been involved in coordinating pro-Beijing candidates and strategy for the May Legislative Council elections, with a candidate for election through the Information Technology functional constituency admitting that an official from Xinhua tried to mediate between potential pro-Beijing candidates to convince him to withdraw from the contest, enhancing the chances of another candidate.

Democratic Party Vice-chairman Dr. Yeung Sum stated that the democrats were greatly concerned about this development, as well as earlier reports that Xinhua was involved in the sub-sector elections for the Election Committee, to ensure Beijing's allies such as Provisional Legislature President Rita Fan would have sufficient support in the 800-member body. The democrats called for a full investigation of the reports by the Electoral Affairs Commission.

Dr. Yeung commented:

"It is a serious encroachment on Hong Kong's autonomy for a Central government department to involve itself in Hong Kong's important first elections under Chinese rule, which should be for Hong Kong people alone to decide. Xinhua's power and influence will clearly have an effect in the election, and as such would constitute a direct interference into Hong Kong affairs and violation of China's stated policy of 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong.' The electoral laws prohibiting improper influence should certainly apply to Xinhua. The New China News Agency's involvement will make an unfair election even more so. We call on the Electoral Affairs Commission to investigate these reports without delay."

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