This year’s National Day marks the first celebration of our nation’s birthday since the implementation of the new electoral system in Hong Kong.
The past decade has seen abrupt changes in our country’s internal and external environment, and Hong Kong has undergone ups and downs including unforgettably tumultuous times in 2014 and 2019. Thanks to the principle of “one country, two systems” and the bold leadership of the central government, Hong Kong has weathered the storms and opened a new page under the new administration.
Hong Kong has been an open and international city and we take pride in our advantages of having the best of two systems: being a gateway to an open China, and a free and open capitalist economy; having an independent judiciary and common law system, being a city of vibrant culture, having fascinating countryside and excellent cuisines. Unfortunately, in recent years, many Western countries have adopted a very hostile approach toward China, and some external forces even took part in the riots in 2019 with an aim to endanger our national security and separate Hong Kong from China. The monthslong riots were successfully crushed by the Hong Kong Police Force with no single rioter being killed. The degree of restraint of our police amid life-threatening situations in months should be applauded.
While Hong Kong has benefited from being a gateway to the West for China in the past century, when national security is being threatened and this city becomes the interface of a fierce struggle between the hostile external forces and China, we have no choice but to join the battle of our nation. The National Security Law implemented in Hong Kong has brought peace and stability back to the city but it has become an excuse for Western countries to impose sanctions on our government officials. It was reported that some of them could not even enjoy banking services due to sanctions imposed by the United States.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has responded swiftly and forcefully to unsubstantiated accusations from Western politicians and media. According to a study of Western media reports on Hong Kong conducted by a group I led, the number of responses from Hong Kong senior officials to Western media reports increased from 18 in 2020 to 39 in 2021, with Mr John Lee Ka-chiu, the then-secretary for security and chief secretary for administration, topping the list of officials.
One line of attack by the Western media is about the “expiry” of “one country, two systems” principle. Therefore it was reassuring that President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the central government’s commitment to the implementation of “one country, two systems” in his speech delivered in an assembly marking the HKSAR’s 25th anniversary on July 1, accentuating that there is no reason to change such a good system and it must be adhered to in the long run.
Another line of attack is whether the central government has “interfered” with Hong Kong affairs. While the central government has exercised its constitutional power based on the country’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR in a responsible manner, it has clarified its position by reaffirming its comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong in a white paper, which reiterates the fact that the city’s high degree of autonomy comes solely from the authorization of the central government.
The new electoral system, governed by the principles of “patriots administering Hong Kong” serves to dispel the myths of the superiority of “Western democracies” and allow an electoral system with Hong Kong characteristics to take root in the years to come
The reform of Hong Kong’s electoral system was another bold action of the central government to ensure the full and faithful implementation of “one country, two systems”. The debates on the timetable, road map and proposals for the implementation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong in the past two decades have caused deep divisions among Hong Kong people, as well as between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. The new electoral system, governed by the principles of “patriots administering Hong Kong” serves to dispel the myths of the superiority of “Western democracies” and allow an electoral system with Hong Kong characteristics to take root in the years to come.
Under the reformed electoral system, both the Election Committee and the Legislative Council have been expanded. The number of sectors in the Election Committee increased from four to five, with each comprising 300 members, including representatives of Hong Kong members of related national organizations. The improvement in the electoral system is to ensure a healthier development of Hong Kong’s democracy under the spirits of balanced participation, pluralistic and orderly democracy, which is in stark contrast to the previous electoral system that had led to endless political infighting and strife.
Above all, other significant steps for advancing “one country, two systems” include the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area — ¬wherein Hong Kong can leverage its unique strengths to pursue further socioeconomic development while integrating itself into national development. The central government has also rolled out numerous measures to facilitate Hong Kong people to work, study and live on the mainland.
The past decade has witnessed momentous efforts by the central government to advance and smoothen the implementation of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong. With the implementation of the National Security Law and the electoral revamp, big progress has been made toward restoring stability and order in Hong Kong, allowing the city to refocus on its priorities of boosting economic development and resolving livelihood problems.
John Lee’s administration is expected to fully implement the proposals raised by President Xi in his July 1 speech. The first Policy Address of Mr John Lee will be released on Oct 19; Hong Kong residents have high hope for it, looking forward to seeing policies or measures to improve governance, boost economic growth, and address concerns and difficulties of grassroots citizens and young people.
“One country, two systems”, an unprecedented political innovation designed to facilitate national reunification, has enabled Hong Kong to maintain great vitality and prosperity; it will survive and thrive beyond 2047 for sure.
The author is the founder and chairman of One Country Two Systems Youth Forum.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS