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Published: 00:22, September 30, 2022 | Updated: 09:44, September 30, 2022
‘One country, two systems’ may still see minor hiccups but not major disruptions
By Zhou Bajun
Published:00:22, September 30, 2022 Updated:09:44, September 30, 2022 By Zhou Bajun

President Xi Jinping, who was elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China at the 18th National Congress of the CPC in November 2012, reiterated soon after the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress that the Chinese people will unequivocally follow the path of peaceful development but will never eat the bitter fruit of sacrificing the core interest of the nation. 

The Trump administration of the United States adjusted its global strategy around late 2017 and early 2018, and regarded China as one of America’s main rivals. However, long before that strategic adjustment, the Obama administration had already announced its “Pivot to Asia” agenda back in 2009.

The decision-making elites in Western powers such as the US and UK found themselves increasingly consumed by a tendency to hate on China around the time of the CPC’s 18th National Congress. Their simmering sense of insecurity can be summed up as dumfounded, crestfallen and self-loathing. They were dumfounded because they had never expected China to be so successful; crestfallen because China’s rapid economic development did not trigger a shift to a Western-styled political system as they had hoped for; and they could not help self-loathing for completely missing a perfect opportunity to stop the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in its tracks.

This change of heart and attitude, so to speak, among Western powers toward China was exactly the reason why Xi declared so emphatically that the Chinese people would never eat the bitter fruit of sacrificing their national core interest under any circumstance, which consists of integrity of sovereignty, national security and development interests. As far as national core interest is concerned, President Xi summed it up best as this: “Upholding the sovereignty, national security and development interests constitutes the highest principle of ‘one country, two systems’.” The central authorities’ efforts in implementing “one country, two systems” in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the 18th Party Congress some 10 years ago have been guided by that ultimate principle.

In the past decade or so, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has fought through hell and high water to uphold the country’s sovereignty, national security and development interests.

In 2014, under the leadership of the central government, the HKSAR government contained and eventually put down by peaceful means the so-called “Occupy Central” movement, masterminded and commanded by external forces hostile to China.

In 2015, under the guidance of the central authorities, the HKSAR government foiled attempts by anti-China subversives in the name of “true democracy” to seize Hong Kong’s governing power through election.

In 2016, during the Lunar New Year holidays, the HKSAR government, guided by the central authorities, crushed the “Mong Kok riot” organized by die-hard separatists.

In late 2017 through early 2018, Washington made some changes to its global strategy, designating China as one of its main rivals. Ever since, anti-China external forces have significantly stepped up interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs in an attempt to seize the city’s governing power through their local proxies. To defeat such criminal enterprises, the CPC central leadership, with Xi Jinping at its core, took effective measures to ensure Beijing exercises overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR and supports the HKSAR government in faithful implementation of “one country, two systems”.

In 2019, hostile external forces and their local proxies thought they had found the perfect opportunity to push separatist movement in Hong Kong to the next level by turning the anti-extradition protests into a full-blown, violent “color revolution”. At the height of unprecedented unrest, murmurs of appeasement were heard amid the mounting threat of a constitutional crisis. Thankfully, the central authorities never lost sight of the ultimate principle and took decisive steps to restore order and rule of law in the HKSAR by enacting the National Security Law for implementation in Hong Kong in June 2020, followed by an overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system through local legislation according to the Basic Law to ensure “patriots administering Hong Kong”.

The stabilizing power of the new security law was immediate and awe-inspiring, as the “black-clad” insurrection ended as swiftly as it had erupted a year earlier, giving Hong Kong society much-needed relief and stability to focus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalizing the economy. As expected, the revamped electoral system proved instrumental in the success of the 2021 Legislative Council election and the 2022 chief executive election in ensuring the original intent of “one country, two systems” is truly reflected in “patriots administering Hong Kong”, paving the way for the city to go all-out in winning the war on COVID-19 and pursuing long-term prosperity and stability.

In just 10 years, Hong Kong has experienced a lot of ups and downs in implementing “one country, two systems” and gained precious knowledge to not make similar mistakes again in the future. In President Xi’s words, spoken in his address to a gathering celebrating the 25th anniversary of the HKSAR and the swearing-in of the sixth-term HKSAR government on July 1 this year, “Only when we thoroughly understand the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and grasp the best way to implement it can we ensure the cause of ‘one country, two systems’ proceeds faithfully in the correct direction for many years to come.”

In the present and foreseeable future, Hong Kong needs to keep two matters affecting its exercise of “one country, two systems” in mind.

One is the fact that anti-China external forces have not given up their attempt to obstruct China’s peaceful development at the hands of anti-CPC separatists they support and control. There is no doubt the hostile external forces will continue undermining the implementation of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, whose success is a crucial part of the great rejuvenation and reunification of the Chinese nation. No one in their right mind should underestimate the power and influence of the hostile external forces hellbent on sabotaging the exercise of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong by all means imaginable. The established entities of the local separatist movement as we know it may have been abolished, but some of its die-hard members will no doubt continue making troubles in the shadows according to instructions from their overseas patrons.

The other is the fact that some Hong Kong residents were so thoroughly brainwashed by Western ideologies, making it impossible to eradicate their apologist tendency toward Western geopolitical maneuvers against China and their unwillingness to confront foreign interference. Even in the pro-establishment community, there are still people who misunderstood “one country, two systems” and found themselves under fire for making erroneous remarks. Such a mindset is not conducive to the accurate and full implementation of “one country, two systems”, as well as Hong Kong integrating its own development into the overall development strategy of the country and playing a major role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development.

The practice of “one country, two systems” may still see minor hiccups in the years ahead but definitely no more disruptions as those witnessed in the past few years. Any doubt about the continuous success of “one country, two systems” is unwarranted. The upcoming 20th National Congress of the CPC is widely expected to come up with major national strategies to guide national development in the next five years and beyond, as well as to ensure the smooth implementation of “one country, two systems”.

The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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