On the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s establishment, President Xi Jinping delivered an extremely timely and important talk on the practice and future of “one country, two systems” (OCTS) in Hong Kong as well as on the way Hong Kong can promote prosperity, stability, and development.
President Xi lauds the practice of OCTS in Hong Kong over the past 25 years as a tremendous success. Despite variegated problems, occasional turbulence and some missteps, Hong Kong has managed to maintain by and large its prosperity and stability as well as contribute substantially to the motherland’s development.
To ensure even greater success in the practice of OCTS in the future, President Xi reiterates the original intentions and fundamental principles of OCTS. In his view, these intentions and principles constitute the foundation and prerequisites for the successful implementation of OCTS. He admonishes the HKSAR government and the local community to accurately understand these intentions and principles to enable the practice of OCTS to be steady and long-lasting. The vicissitudes in the practice of OCTS in Hong Kong in the past 25 years have fully corroborated the insightful analysis of President Xi.
In his view, the original intentions encompass promoting the reunification of the country, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, the preservation of Hong Kong’s capitalist system, and maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. The fundamental principles comprise the full and accurate implementation of OCTS, upholding the overall jurisdiction of the central authorities over Hong Kong, realizing the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, and maintaining Hong Kong’s unique status and advantages.
President Xi’s talk is of paramount theoretical and strategic significance and relevance to the successful implementation of OCTS, to the work of the HKSAR government in the days ahead, to Hong Kong’s future development, and to the way various difficulties and challenges facing Hong Kong in the future are to be appropriately and properly tackled.
President Xi adamantly insists that OCTS is a good institution because it conforms to the fundamental interests of both the country and the two SARs. It’s also because it has the wholehearted support of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people, it is universally embraced by Hong Kong residents, and it is well-received by the international community. Therefore, OCTS is a long-term policy that will be adhered to and fully implemented by the Communist Party of China and the central authorities, and it has not been changed despite the difficulties and challenges encountered during its implementation in the past. Nevertheless, when the practice of OCTS and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability was undermined by internal and external hostile forces, as in 2019-20, the central authorities exercised their constitutional powers to restore order in Hong Kong, banish those hostile forces from Hong Kong, and make sure that OCTS can continue to work. President Xi moreover optimistically and confidently points out that from now on Hong Kong, under “patriots administering Hong Kong” and a new HKSAR government, will have more opportunities than challenges and hence will have a very bright future. In short, President Xi pledges that OCTS will not be given up and instead will continue long into the future even after the original notion of “Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life remaining unchanged for 50 years” expires in 2047. President Xi also promises to help Hong Kong strengthen its unique capitalist system and its competitive advantages such as its international linkages and common law system. These words from President Xi will certainly have the intended effect of strengthening the confidence in Hong Kong on the part of both the Hong Kong residents and the international community.
After perusing the experience in implementing OCTS in Hong Kong in the past 25 years, President Xi indicates that the core requirements for the successful implementation of OCTS are: the prerequisite of “one country” must be firmly upheld and the concepts of the country and nation must be steadfastly endorsed. Only with these in place can the constitutional order made up of the nation’s constitution and the Basic Law be upheld, the socialist system with Chinese characteristics led by the Communist Party of China be safeguarded, the comprehensive jurisdiction of the central authorities over Hong Kong and its exercise be respected, Hong Kong’s integration into the overall development of the motherland be promoted, Hong Kong’s ability to make unique and new contributions to the enterprise of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation be assured, the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong be enhanced, and the “executive-led” political system be established, Hong Kong’s industrial base be broadened, and the deep-seated contradictions and problems of Hong Kong be properly tackled. Accordingly, President Xi urges all sectors of Hong Kong society to stick to the “one country” principle and espouse the concepts of the country and the nation.
In comparison with President Xi’s similar talk five years ago, Friday’s talk places particular emphasis on the critical importance of the next five years for Hong Kong, as they represent the turning point in both Hong Kong’s development and the practice of OCTS. Hong Kong, with the strong support of the central authorities, must make sure that it can lay a solid foundation for the long-term success of OCTS and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability in the next five years. Accordingly, the admonitions of President Xi to the Hong Kong community and particularly to the HKSAR government this time are much more concrete and demanding. These admonitions will naturally become the major criteria for evaluating the performance of the new HKSAR government by the central authorities. President Xi especially expects the new HKSAR government to enhance its ability to govern, improve the way it governs, run Hong Kong in a proactive, farsighted and results-oriented manner, be able to overcome the resistance and obstruction of the vested interests, accelerate Hong Kong’s integration into the overall development of the motherland, consolidate and enhance Hong Kong’s uniqueness and competitiveness, better use the opportunities offered to Hong Kong by the motherland’s development, broaden Hong Kong’s industrial base — particularly by building up innovative technology industries, push forward Hong Kong’s long-term and sustained development, enable Hong Kong to better resolve the deep-seated social and livelihood problems, and promote social harmony and stability.
President Xi lays out explicitly his expectations toward the HKSAR government: “(the HKSAR government) should elevate the concept of the nation, broaden its international vision, and be able to proactively plan Hong Kong’s development from the macroscopic and long-term perspective. It should change its doctrine of governance, grasp well the relationship between the government and the market, and merge better an active government and an efficient market. It should strengthen the government’s management, improve its style of governance, demonstrate the can-do and do-well spirits as well as courage and conscientiousness, and foster an ambiance of good and effective governance.” In other words, the doctrines of “small government, great market” and “positive non-interventionism”, which are widely extolled within and without the government even today, are obsolete, and the freewheeling market cannot be expected to promote Hong Kong’s long-term development, build a fair and just society, or eradicate the factors of disorder and discontent in Hong Kong. Instead, the HKSAR government should execute active and proactive governance and prioritize the interests of the people, particularly those of the underprivileged, so that everyone in Hong Kong can benefit from the city’s development and prosperity.
President Xi pledges that the central authorities will strongly support and empower the HKSAR government, particularly in helping it to overcome the obstacles and difficulties encountered in its pursuit of proactive and good governance, pointedly referring to the obstructions that might come from the many powerful and intransigent vested interests and monopolies. President Xi is especially concerned about the well-being of the young people of Hong Kong, and deliberately links the proper handling of the problem of the young people with the future development and stability of Hong Kong. Undoubtedly, one of the major and urgent tasks of the HKSAR is to bring about a younger generation more satisfied with the motherland, the community, and themselves.
In general, when the original intentions of OCTS are firmly fulfilled, the basic principles of OCTS are faithfully realized, Hong Kong enjoys the full and staunch support of the central authorities, and the HKSAR government can deliver good and effective governance, OCTS in Hong Kong would be comprehensively and accurately implemented, and Hong Kong’s bright future would be assured.
The author is a professor emeritus of sociology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS