________________________________________________________________________ China gets delegates it wants in Hong Kong ____________________________________________________________________________ Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 Reuters HONG KONG (December 8, 1997 08:53 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Pro-Beijing tycoons and politicians on Monday picked 36 delegates to represent Hong Kong in China's rubber-stamp parliament after a contest denounced by pro-democracy forces as a sham. A committee of 424 pro-Beijing stalwarts appointed by China chose the delegates to Beijing's National People's Congress from a list of 54. The winners join a newly formed Congress in Beijing early next year. Hong Kong has sent delegates to the Congress in the past, but it was the first time representatives had been chosen by a selection committee process, rather than directly appointed by Beijing. Beijing's diplomatic envoy, Jiang Enzhu, the head of the watchdog Xinhua News agency branch in Hong Kong, came out on top. Jiang won the first round Saturday and had been widely expected to win a seat, and possibly to lead the Hong Kong NPC bloc. His aide, Lee Wai-ting, was also one of the biggest vote-getters in Monday's contest. Other winners included 14 local NPC incumbents and the president of Hong Kong's Provisional Legislature, Rita Fan. China resumed sovereignty over the British colony of 156 years July 1, promising to preserve its autonomy and distinct political system under a "one country, two systems" setup. But Jiang's participation has sparked allegations China is already encroaching on the territory's freedom. Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa hailed the process as "open and fair." He told reporters after the selection that the deputies chosen were repesentative of Hong Kong society. "This election has been conducted in a very fair, open manner ... and I think the results are very good. And these 36 persons will represent Hong Kong very well," he said. An opinion poll showed Monday that the popularity of Tung and confidence in the economy had ebbed amid Asia's financial turmoil. Public approval of the unelected Provisional Legislature, which China appointed to replace the elected Legislative Council had also slumped, the poll showed. The pro-democracy camp has blasted the NPC selection process as a "closed-circle" election and a sham.
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