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(Yonhap Interview) China wants peace on Korean Peninsula: HK legislative speaker
By Kim Young-gyo
HONG KONG, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- China has a clear stance on North Korea's abrupt attack on a South Korean island and objects to escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula, Hong Kong's legislative speaker said Thursday.

   "I have noticed China's position is very clear. China's government wants to see peace and dialogue between North and South Korea," Jasper Tsang, president of the Legislative Council, said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency.

   Tsang, while admitting there are limitations to what Hong Kong can do in international relations, stressed what China wants on the Korean Peninsula is dialogue and peace.

   "I am, of course, aware that according to China's one country, two systems policy, the foreign policy should be in the hands of the central government," he said.

   "But I think I won't be wrong to stress China wants to see peace, cooperation and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula."

Jasper Tsang, president of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. (Yonhap)

At the invitation of South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Tsang will begin a five-day visit to South Korea later on Thursday. While in South Korea, Tsang will visit the National Assembly and meet with Park Hee-tae, speaker of South Korea's National Assembly.

   "Hong Kong is moving towards a democratic government system. I believe there is much we can learn from South Korea in that aspect," he said.

   "Some of the issues that many of my colleagues are very interested to study as we move toward full democracy are how the (South Korean) legislature and executive branches cooperate, how various political parties in South Korea play their parts in their National Assembly."

   Asked whether Hong Kong's experiment with democracy can be a model for China's political reform, the legislative speaker cautiously said it could provide a stepping stone.

   "Let me put it this way. We are still in a stage of transition. We are still debating on what the eventual, ultimate system should look like. Therefore, the coming 10 years or so will be a challenging period for us," he said.

   "But that said, I am very confident that we will come up with a democratic system suitable for Hong Kong. That will be a valuable experience for other parts of China to study and consider."

   He added that it would be too "impetuous" to assume that what the Hong Kong system develops into will be suitable for China, saying the country is different from Hong Kong in terms of its vastness and diversity.

   When asked about Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned dissident who won China's first Nobel Prize, Tsang said the Hong Kong legislature has been heatedly discussing the issue related to Liu.

   The Norway-based Nobel committee decided in October to award its peace prize this year to Liu, honoring his advocacy for human rights and peaceful democratic change in China, which lasted for more than two decades. He was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment and two years of deprivation of political rights in December last year.

   "As far as awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu Xiaobo is concerned, we, the Hong Kong legislature, had a debate on the issue," he said.

   "Most of the members (of the legislature) have expressed their views in the debate, saying that, because Mr. Liu has only been involved in peaceful means to call upon political reforms in China, Mr. Liu should not be punished as a criminal."