Why is 'One Country, Two Systems' the best institutional arrangement?
Why is 'One Country, Two Systems' the best institutional arrangement?

Editor's note: The week-long 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China concluded on October 22, with a blueprint mapped out for China's future development in the next five years and beyond. CGTN is publishing "How China Works – Charting the Future," a special series delving deep into a key report adopted at the congress to see how the country can fulfill the goals and tasks on the new journey of the new era.

As the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) mapped out China's development blueprint for the next five years and beyond, the critical role of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Macao Special Administrative Region was underscored.

In his report to the 20th CPC National Congress, Xi Jinping pledged to uphold and improve "One Country, Two Systems," stressed the need to safeguard national security, and called for the two SARs' integration into the country's overall development to be better supported in order for them to play a greater role in realizing national rejuvenation.

"We will fully, faithfully and resolutely implement the policy of 'One Country, Two Systems,' under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong and the people of Macao administer Macao, both with a high degree of autonomy," Xi said.

Adhering to 'One Country, Two Systems' in long run

"The policy of 'One Country, Two Systems' is a great innovation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It has proven to be the best institutional arrangement for ensuring sustained prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao after their return to the motherland," Xi said.

"This policy must be adhered to over the long term," he stressed, as he read out part of a section of the report devoted to the importance of "One Country, Two Systems."

The report also summarized the practice of "One Country, Two Systems" and the historic achievements of Hong Kong's transition from chaos to order.

Figures do not lie. According to Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the total value of Hong Kong's asset and wealth management business reached HK$35.55 trillion (about $4.53 trillion) at the end of 2021, which was 20 percent up compared with the amount at the end of 2019. Hong Kong banks held more than HK$15 trillion in deposits by the end of July, which was 8.5 percent more than before the national security law for HKSAR took effect.

Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's Law School and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the report to the congress offered institutional support for the stability and vitality of the "One Country, Two Systems" and the long-term prosperity and stability of the two SARs.

He added that over the past five years, the central government had laid the institutional foundations for the systematic security of "One Country, Two Systems" and good governance in the HKSAR and Macao SAR, citing cases including the enforcement of the law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, the improvements to the electoral system of the HKSAR and Macao SAR's proceedings to amend its law on safeguarding national security.

Stage set for HK, Macao

Hong Kong and Macao will continue to receive support to grow their economies, improve their people's lives, and resolve deep-seated issues and problems in economic and social development, according to the report.

"We will give full play to the strengths and distinctive features of the two regions to see them consolidate and elevate their international position in finance, trade, shipping, aviation, innovation and technology, culture and tourism and other fields," Xi noted, adding the central government will continue to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and support Hong Kong and Macao in better integrating themselves into China's overall development plan.

The GBA's GDP hit 12.6 trillion yuan ($1.97 trillion) last year, 2.4 trillion yuan more than in 2017. With less than 1 percent of the country's land mass, the GBA created 12 percent of the national GDP.

Commenting on the report, Richard Hu Weixing, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Macao, pointed out that the GBA is designed to create a new landscape in China's comprehensive opening up in the new era and a new practice to promote the development of the cause of "One Country, Two Systems."

Wu Libin, an associate professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, said the report had set a roadmap for Hong Kong's participation in the building of the GBA. He added that the GBA is also a major innovation to enrich the practice of "One Country, Two Systems" as well as a powerful initiative to further deepen reform and expand opening up.

Mervyn Cheung, a member of Chinese Association for Hong Kong and Macao Studies said the two SARs were "big gainers in the Party Congress," as they were given noticeable mentions in the report.

He said the stage had been set for the two SARs to put into full use the competitive edges afforded by "One Country, Two Systems" to "take up a bigger responsibility in the realization of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation by proactively participating in national development on the major fronts."

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