Published: 01:08, December 6, 2022 | Updated: 09:41, December 6, 2022
Hong Kong readies itself for a better age with fresh ‘restart’
By Kevin Lau

The central authorities sent top legal experts and economists to brief Hong Kong on the gist of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China over the weekend, paving the way for the special administrative region to embark on a crucial stage for upholding the best of “one country, two systems” to safeguard its stability and prosperity. The upcoming decade will turn out to be far more crucial to Hong Kong’s development and future than most people in the city might have ever expected. 

Gradually but firmly stepping out from the shadows of the unprecedented double-whammy of social unrest and the pandemic, Hong Kong finds itself setting its feet right on the starting line and getting ready for a fresh “restart”. It is more likely that the new decade will play a decisive role in determining whether the city will regain its past brilliance and even surpass it, or will see itself falling into obscurity. So, this decade is to be taken seriously. No doubt.

A quarter of a century has passed since Hong Kong returned to China and the path has been anything but smooth. Challenges came one after another, in the form of the Asian financial crisis, the international financial tsunami, the SARS epidemic, to name but a few. And they culminated, in an unwanted way, in the social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, the special administrative region, with support from the central government, has managed to overcome every challenge and maintain its entrenched advantages.

Meanwhile, China as a whole is also well on a new journey. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. In addition to party members, all Chinese people feel proud of what the country has achieved over the past 100 years. The country is like an unstoppable locomotive running toward the ultimate destination of building a modernized and strong socialist nation. Chinese-style modernization is the right path that the Party has found after a century of humiliation by foreign powers. The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 created the basis for the Party to put into practice all its ideas to rejuvenate the nation. When celebrating the first century of the CPC, the party had by that time led the State to win the tough battle over poverty. Millions of Chinese people have not only stood up for themselves to earn well-deserved lifestyles with adequate food and clothing, but have also achieved their aspirations to enjoy a decent life of affluence in all respects.

This decade is crucial not just to the city of Hong Kong, but also to China. Reunification with Taiwan is inevitable and it should take place in a peaceful manner, if the “one country, two systems” principle that is currently implemented in Hong Kong could be faithfully implemented there. In a sense, Hong Kong is an oversized “laboratory” where the “one country, two systems” experiment is taking place. To draw in more believers, especially those in Taiwan, the experiment must succeed. Therefore, the “performance” of Hong Kong has come to bear an implication that can be referred to far beyond the city’s border. That explains why the framework has now been incorporated into the CPC’s Constitution. With that, the system has formally been elevated to the national level and become one of the core elements of China’s political ideology. 

Taiwan separatist forces waste no opportunities to play with fire and hostile external forces are more than happy to interfere in the island’s affairs. Over the past few years, this dangerous trend has been gathering momentum. However, China is determined to annihilate the separatism and foreign interference to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. To draw Taiwan into the orbit of “one country, two systems”, the system must, first of all, succeed in Hong Kong. How “one country, two systems” fares in Hong Kong within this decade carries significant implications for the central government, Taipei and all places in the world where people hope for a peaceful reunification.

The inclusion of “one country, two systems” into the CPC’s Constitution is of extraordinary significance. Obviously, it means that the system will continue to be a key strategic guideline for the country’s future development. Of course, nothing is perfect and so people should accept the fact that when the framework for “one country, two systems” has been in place for a long time, problems will inevitably pop up. Tackling those problems appropriately, however, can help perfect the system. Without these progressive adjustments, the system may lose its vitality. “One country, two systems” was a groundbreaking approach when Hong Kong reunified with the motherland. Any sensible minds will understand that a process of trial and error would be inevitable and that ongoing improvements would be necessary.

If there are any takeaways from the recently concluded 20th National Congress, they must include three things that have become more certain than ever. First, the CPC and its leadership are instrumental in China’s peaceful rise. Second, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is inevitable. And third, Hong Kong is destined to play a constructive role in this great endeavor despite desperate attempts by all hostile forces to obstruct it. This author has attended the seminar organized by the central authorities to help the Hong Kong public better understand the report presented by General Secretary Xi Jinping to the 20th National Congress of the CPC last month and this sums up what I learned at the seminar.

The tasks the central government has set for Hong Kong for the upcoming decade point the city toward further success. Hong Kong should be practical and learn from past experiences. Over the last 100 years, the Party had demonstrated its ability to bring miracles to the country. Its track record speaks for itself. While the country focuses on building a modernized country, Hong Kong should work on perfecting its role as an informative showcase for the success of “one country, two systems”.

The author, a radiologist, is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Coalition and a council member of the Chinese Young Entrepreneurs Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.