Joephy Chan says the work office will enable Party leadership to guide and supervise work on HK and Macao affairs more efficiently
According to the latest Party and State Institutional Reform Plan released by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council last week, the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the CPC Central Committee will be formed on the basis of the existing Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. The new agency will serve as a working body of the top Party leadership. The creation of the new body, which is responsible for leading and supervising the central authorities’ work on Hong Kong and Macao affairs, reflects the importance of Hong Kong and Macao in national development.
According to the reform plan, the work office will be responsible for upholding the “one country, two systems” principle, exercising the central authorities’ jurisdiction over the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, safeguarding national security, improving the livelihoods and well-being of the SARs’ residents, and supporting the integration of the Hong Kong and Macao SARs into the national development.
The creation of the new working body indicates that the top Party leadership is paying greater attention to the SARs and has greater determination to uphold and improve the implementation of “one country, two systems”. The reform of the governance structure for Hong Kong and Macao affairs is in line with the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC and his notion that “one country, two systems” is the best institutional innovation by the CPC for ensuring sustained prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao following their return to the motherland, and thus must be adhered to over the long term. The creation of a higher-level work office for Hong Kong and Macao affairs will enable the top Party leadership to guide and supervise work on Hong Kong and Macao affairs more efficiently. Essentially, at a time of growing geopolitical tensions, the reform plan sends a strong political signal to the West that Beijing will not allow foreign intervention in the SARs or let anyone obstruct the implementation of “one country, two systems”.
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After the rioters and insurrectionists inflicted huge damage to Hong Kong during the 2019 riots, the central authorities decisively introduced the National Security Law for Hong Kong in June 2020 and initiated improvements to the election system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2021, bringing Hong Kong from chaos to stability. Having closely witnessed the toxic politics which unrolled in Hong Kong over recent years, the central authorities have paid greater attention to Hong Kong affairs, amid increasingly complex geopolitics. The reform of the governance structure for Hong Kong and Macao affairs is part of efforts to ensure the smooth implementation of “one country, two systems” and thus the long-term prosperity and stability of the two SARs; it should be welcomed by people who love the SARs.
The reform will also benefit Hong Kong and Macao by laying a solid foundation for the future economic development of the SARs. Incidentally, Hong Kong is an externally oriented economy that depends heavily on foreign trade. Unfortunately, the data of the Census and Statistics Department shows that Hong Kong’s exports plummeted by 36.7 percent in January, that is the weakest performance since 1953. In the near term, it is foreseeable that Hong Kong’s exports will continue to be subjected to downward pressure because of the weak global economic recovery. Therefore, the expected faster growth on the Chinese mainland can help alleviate the economic downward pressure on the city. In the long run, due to the changing global order and relations, Hong Kong’s economic stability and long-term prosperity are inseparable from the motherland’s and are tied to national development strategies. Integration of the SARs into national development requires the joint efforts and cooperation of multiple departments between the “two systems”; as such the creation of a higher-level work office on Hong Kong and Macao affairs is timely and will undoubtedly enhance relevant efforts.
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Although the central authorities have established a more efficient governance framework to the benefit of the SARs, the local governments must also play their part to leverage the strengths and opportunities arising therefrom. The first step perhaps is to clearly explain and promote the advantages of the new framework to the SARs’ residents and the wider audience internationally as part of telling the story of “one country, two systems” better. As a lawmaker in Hong Kong, I will raise formal queries with the SAR government at all levels of meetings to ensure the policies adopted are in line with national strategies.
The author is a member of the Legislative Council and the UN Association of China.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS