Why must 'One Country, Two Systems' be upheld and improved?
Editor's Note: China Talk is a global platform where policy makers, business leaders, specialists and scholars, as well as celebrities share their China story and their perspectives on China's development. After 25 years back to the motherland, for Hong Kong to remain prosperous and stable, why is "One country, Two systems" the best institutional arrangement? What significant opportunities would Hong Kong benefit from "One country, Two systems?”Carrie Lam, the fifth-term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, shares her experiences and insights.The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.
Hello and welcome to China Talk. I'm Carrie Lam.
Hong Kong celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its return to the Motherland this year. In the past 25 years, the Communist Party of China (CPC) held a total of five National Congresses. In my opinion, no Party National Congress is more relevant and important to the future development of Hong Kong than the 20thCongress. As our Motherland embarks on a new journey to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects, Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China, will benefit from unparalleled opportunities under the firm guidance of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy.
First of all, in summarizing the work of the past five years in a report delivered on behalf of the 19th Central Committee of CPC to the National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping highlighted, amongst other things, the great achievement in restoring order and stability in Hong Kong amidst unprecedented chaos and turbulent developments. The Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was enacted and put into effect in June 2020, followed by improvements to the electoral system in 2021 which ensure that Hong Kong is administered by patriots. These decisive and integrated moves have effectively addressed the problems which had been accumulated for years in Hong Kong since its reunification as highlighted also in Xi's report — that the institutions and mechanisms for fully and accurately implementing the "One Country, Two Systems" policy were not well-developed and as a result, this could pose grave challenges to China's national security. The year-long riots besieging Hong Kong, instigated by anti-China forces inside and outside Hong Kong and threatening people's safety are a reflection of the gravity of such risks. As the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region leading Hong Kong during those turbulent times, I experienced first-hand the unwavering commitment of the Central Government to the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and its acting in strict accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in tackling the problem. I had the opportunity of appreciating CPC's strong sense of self-confidence in the institutional strengths of China's governance and the strategic perspective over issues concerning Hong Kong adopted by the Central Authorities.
Looking back, few would dispute that the fifth-term HKSAR Government which I led has experienced the most challenging years since the reunification. Hong Kong was hard hit by political radicalization, extensive social unrest and interference by external forces — the executive-led government was malfunctioning and even national security was at risk. As the Chief Executive shouldering dual accountability to the HKSAR and the Central Government, I felt deeply of my heavy responsibility amidst huge pressure. The driving force backing me up in overcoming those challenges came from the earnest words of the Central Government that it would always provide staunch support to Hong Kong. In the process, I was inspired that we must uphold "One Country, Two Systems" as our fundamental guide, steadfastly resist populist demands, adopt a fighting spirit to tackle tough problems and continuously look for self-improvement to ensure lasting success.
"One Country, Two Systems" is a pioneering concept that has no precedent to follow. Its application entails an evolving process especially when the world is changing fast. It is therefore imperative for us to improve the systems for implementing the policy as stated upfront in the relevant section of the 20th National Congress report. But what must remain at the core of such improvements is the Central Government's overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong — this is because Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong; it is a special administrative region authorized by the National People's Congress to exercise a high degree of autonomy to fulfill the concept's original intent of upholding national unity and territorial integrity and maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. That is why in concluding my last annual Policy Address delivered in October 2021, I remarked that Hong Kong is back on the right track of "One Country, Two Systems", is much stronger than ever and is much better positioned to integrate into the overall development of the country. The 20th National Congress report has provided Hong Kong with unshaken confidence, clear directions and abundant opportunities.
In the 20th National Congress report, the policy of "One Country, Two Systems" is hailed as 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 must be adhered to over the long term. Furthermore, in the revised CPC Constitution adopted at the 20th Congress, achieving the reunification of the Motherland by fully, faithfully and resolutely implementing the policy of "One Country, Two Systems" is made a Party commitment. These unequivocal statements are a powerful reinforcement of similar messages from Xi in his address at the meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the Motherland and the inauguration ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on July 1, 2022: "the policy of One Country, Two Systems meets the fundamental interests of the country and the Chinese nation and those of Hong Kong and Macao. It enjoys the full support of the more than 1.4 billion people of the Motherland, it has the unanimous endorsement of Hong Kong and Macao residents, and it is widely recognized by the international community. There is no reason to change such a good system, and it must be adhered to over the long run!"
Full and faithful implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy presents immense opportunities for Hong Kong and these opportunities could be found in the missions and tasks of the CPC as China embarks on a new journey to realize the second centenary goal of national rejuvenation under a two-step strategic plan outlined in the 20th Party Congress report. Let me highlight a few.
Pursuing high-quality development is a first and foremost task of China in the coming years. A high-quality economy requires a high-quality capital market. As a pre-eminent international financial centre with rich liquidity, diverse products and robust regulation, Hong Kong will continue to serve as the high quality and reliable capital market for the mainland, and its financial sector will continue to support development of China's real economy. This function has already been fully demonstrated through the various Connect Schemes between Hong Kong and the Mainland and the former's unchallenged status as the predominant offshore Renminbi hub. Hong Kong has devoted much attention to green finance and FinTech in recent years and these measures would additionally serve the Country's mission in pursuing green development and advancing technological application.
Invigorating China through science and education is another firm commitment, particularly in achieving self-reliance and innovation in science and technology. Hong Kong possesses strengths in innovation and technology which have been significantly boosted in recent years under an eight-pronged strategy to build infrastructure, enhance basic research, foster international cooperation, attract overseas talents, etc. Five of our publicly-funded universities are amongst the world's top 100 and in the latest research assessment exercise concluded in 2021, 70 percent of their research output have been judged as either world leading or internationally excellent. Two of our world-renowned universities already have a campus in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and a third is in the pipeline. Talking about the Greater Bay Area, it is gratified to note that the 20th Congress report attaches importance to promoting coordinated regional development and Hong Kong will be assisted to integrate better into China's overall development through the Greater Bay Area.
Deepening reform and opening-up is a commitment in the 20th Congress report. As we all know, a strategy to reform and opening-up has helped shape modern China and driven her economic growth. Throughout the past four decades, Hong Kong has leveraged its role as an important window and bridge connecting the mainland with the world and has made irreplaceable contribution to China's miraculous success. As China's doors open wider and wider, Hong Kong will enjoy continued opportunities on all fronts, giving full play to its unique status and strengths, including a free and open economy, a world-class business environment, the well-established legal system including the common law, extensive transportation links and its participation in bilateral and multilateral agreements as provided for under the Basic Law.
National rejuvenation calls for greater confidence in our culture, and a better presentation of Chinese culture which has over 5000 years of civilization to our younger generation and to the outside world. With its unique status as an East-meets-West hub, Hong Kong is well placed to help promote Chinese culture to the outside world which has received central government's support under the 14th Five-Year Plan. Indeed, the mission of the Hong Kong Palace Museum which opened its doors to the public on July 3 this year is to help grow China's cultural soft power by presenting the fine traditional Chinese civilization to the outside world and facilitating international cultural exchanges.
Promoting world peace and development and building a human community with a shared future is China's commitment to the world in the foreign policy. As opposed to hegemonic and hypocritical acts of some foreign governments, our country has made admirable efforts to build a global network of partnerships and advocated and practiced true multilateralism since the 18th National Congress. The world is now facing unprecedented changes and peaceful reconciliation of differences and disputes are becoming more and more essential. Hong Kong with its well established and internationally recognized legal services can certainly play a useful role. This has already been fully demonstrated in the opening of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre in May this year with the strong support of the Central People's Government and the arrangement on the establishment of the International Organization for Mediation Preparatory Office in Hong Kong signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the HKSAR Government in October. These two landmark developments show the tremendous support of our Motherland in strengthening Hong Kong's unique status under "One Country, Two Systems" and a recognition of its contribution to the country's mission in playing an active part in the development of the global governance system that will benefit the human community.
All in all, the 20th Party Congress has given Hong Kong people, and business and investors alike, added confidence that the CPC will ensure the success of development on the mainland which practices the socialist system as well as the success of development in Hong Kong under the capitalist system. Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China; it is incumbent upon the people of Hong Kong to contribute to and rejoice at the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
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