President Xi Jinping said in his short speech upon arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday the implementation of “one country, two systems” must be kept steady in order to last. And he explained why and how in later speeches during his three-day stay in the city.
On Friday afternoon, the president met with representatives of various sectors of Hong Kong society and noted that what the SAR should be concerned about is not whether “one country, two systems” would change, but rather how to exercise the “one country, two systems” principle fully and precisely. To do so, it’s necessary to justly treat, rationally analyze and proactively address any new issue or problem arising from the exercise of “one country, two systems”, which will keep advancing despite difficulties and questions.
At the welcoming dinner given in his honor by the SAR government on Friday, Xi said Hong Kong compatriots have every reason to be confident about themselves as Chinese citizens, about Hong Kong their home and about the country.
Some local residents lack confidence in the country or Hong Kong because they lack confidence in the Chinese nation. By confidence in oneself, he means all people of Chinese descent should be proud of and confident about the Chinese nation. He said the Chinese are a great people, and the Chinese civilization dates back more than 5,000 years and is the only ancient civilization in the world that has continued till this day without interruption. He also praised Hong Kong’s development from an obscure fishing village into a world-famous cosmopolitan city, saying it’s the crystallization of industriousness and dedication of generations of predominantly Chinese Hong Kong people. He recognized and thanked Hong Kong compatriots for their significant contributions to the country’s reform and opening-up all these years. Those are the reasons why Hong Kong residents should see themselves as members of the Chinese nation.
Many local residents are losing confidence in Hong Kong because they were led to believe the city is losing its advantages and unique place in the world. That is why the president called for confidence in Hong Kong, with particular emphasis on the unique advantages, such as the system advantage of “one country, two systems”, which combines the benefits of the mainland market and development opportunities with new avenues of business growth emerging from the country’s efforts to open further to the outside world for Hong Kong to take advantage of. He encouraged the SAR to strengthen and elevate those advantages, which will surely help attract more investments and talents amid fierce competition in the region, as well as in the world. Capital and talent are the most important resources for knowledge-driven economic development, which depends on innovation. To keep Hong Kong’s economy growing and write new chapters of the success story, the city must have confidence in its ability to reinvent itself.
As for confidence in the country, the focus is on addressing some local residents’ problem in accepting the national identity and some others’ refusal to recognize the People’s Republic of China. It is those misconceptions that have given rise to separatist pursuits disguised as “localism”. By calling for confidence in the country, Xi means local residents should understand that Hong Kong cannot exist without the country, whose well-being is vital to the city’s prosperity.
With confidence in oneself, in Hong Kong and in the country, the president has shown us from historical and realistic perspectives why “one country” is the basis of and precedes “two systems”. Hong Kong society must keep that in mind in order to keep the exercise of “one country, two systems” steady and straight ahead.
On Saturday morning, Xi emphasized the above point again in his speech at the swearing-in ceremony for the leading members of the fifth-term HKSAR Government, including new Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and all the principal officials, and in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR. He reiterated that from the statutory and political point of view, “one country” is the foundation on which “two systems” exists. “Hong Kong has once again been part of the national governance system since the day China regained sovereign rule over the city. The central government maintains direct jurisdiction over the HKSAR according to the nation’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. Thus, the special administrative region system is established,” he said.
The younger generation is a crucial part of keeping the exercise of “one country, two systems” steady and straight ahead. To drive this notion home, Xi said on Thursday at a meeting with leading officials of the executive and legislative wings and the judiciary, that the SAR government must “guide young people in following the great tradition of loving Hong Kong as well as the country”. Apparently, one cannot stress enough the importance of securing the future by properly preparing the younger generation for administering the HKSAR according to the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle.
(The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings)
(Published on Page 9, China Daily Hong Kong Edition, July 3, 2017)