HONG KONG - The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council should play a “matchmaker” role in facilitating the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions’ integration into the country’s development, said the office’s director Zhang Xiaoming.
Zhang was delivering a speech at a meeting celebrating the office’s 40th anniversary on Thursday in Beijing. He said the office should help both SARs target opportunities in the national-level development blueprints such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative.
The office should also concentrate on things which benefit Hong Kong and Macao residents, Zhang added.
Since August 2017, the office has helped introduce concrete measures to facilitate Hong Kong and Macao people studying, working and living on the Chinese mainland.
Such measures include ending the employment permit requirement for Hong Kong and Macao residents working on the mainland. People from the two SARs living on the mainland can also apply for residence permits now.
Pressing ahead with the Hong Kong and Macao SARs’ integration into the country will be the HKMAO’s future work focus, Zhang added.
But the office head denied that integration means obscuring the differences between the two SARs and the mainland, or turning Hong Kong and Macao into mainland cities. He noted that work by the office would strictly follow the principle of “one country, two systems”, and be in accordance with the law.
In addition, Zhang said the office would continue to act as a “gatekeeper” for the comprehensive implementation of “one country, two systems” principle.
On one hand, the HKMAO will respect differences of the two systems, ensure a high degree of autonomy in the SARs and extend firm support to their law-based governance, Zhang noted.
On the other, the office will firmly maintain “one country” principle and have zero tolerance for all behavior which violates the principle and the Basic Law - such as Hong Kong independence advocacy.
Zhang called for proactive action, innovative thinking and in-depth study to deal with affairs of both SARs.
In his speech, Zhang also called on office members to remain true to the office’s original aspirations. This means firmly safeguard national unity and sovereignty and maintaining Hong Kong and Macao SARs’ long-term prosperity and stability.
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