Coinciding with the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, July 1 also marked the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. As the saying “Sailing the sea depends on the helmsman” goes, over the nearly quarter-century since the return of Hong Kong, under the unswerving implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong has survived a plethora of socioeconomic and political challenges. It must be attributed to the vision, leadership and helmsmanship of the CPC, without which the vessel of “one country, two systems” would have been channeled into uncharted waters.
One major achievement of China led by the CPC, as President Xi Jinping declared, was that it has achieved the first of its two centennial goals and is now “a moderately well-off society in all respects”, and China is on its way to becoming a great modern socialist country by 2049 and achieving its national rejuvenation goal. This can be seen in how the nation has made great strides in eliminating absolute poverty under the leadership of the CPC. In quantitative terms, the per capita income of China has doubled compared to 2010. According to the World Bank, China’s per capita GDP in 2020 was US$10,500, near the global average of US$10,925. The CPC deserves kudos for steering China as a country “from standing up, getting rich to now being strong”.
In the context of Hong Kong, the visionary political wisdom of the CPC is manifested in the design and successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy. As China is a unitary state, where the central government has overall jurisdiction over all local administrative regions, the high degree of autonomy as authorized to be exercised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, directly under the central government, reflects the CPC’s sincere wish to see Hong Kong continue to thrive and flourish as “Asia’s world city”. As “one country, two systems” is a concept which hardly has been practiced anywhere in the world, in hindsight, with the lasting stability and prosperity of the HKSAR, it can be recognized as a magic formula blending two incompatible social systems under a single flag.
At the CPC centenary celebration, President Xi declared, “We will stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong ... with a high degree of autonomy.” Hong Kong people can rest assured that a brighter future for Hong Kong is coming
On the premise of “one country, two systems”, the adoption and promulgation of the Basic Law of the HKSAR, a constitutional document, on April 4, 1990, is a high manifestation of the rule of law as it laid down the constitutional foundation of the central government to authorize Hong Kong to be governed by Hong Kong people with a high degree of autonomy. In addition to the socioeconomic and political systems of the HKSAR, fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents are also expressly safeguarded in the Basic Law. Methods for the selection of the chief executive and formation of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR have also been provided and updated in the Basic Law considering the actual situation of the city. It is important to note that such electoral arrangements were never made public during the colonial time as each governor and most legislature members were appointed by the British government in London, with no say from Hong Kong people.
Since the handover nearly a quarter-century ago, Hong Kong has time and again languished with endless political disputes and tussles between the opposition and pro-establishment groups in the local legislature. Such conflict and contradiction escalated into a violent, bloodstained citywide social unrest roiling Hong Kong when the now-shelved extradition bill was proposed in 2019. In restoring peace and prosperity to Hong Kong and breaking the deadlock of LegCo whereby bills and meetings were held up as opposition antics played by the opposition lawmakers, the introduction of the National Security Law for Hong Kong in June 2020 and the decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR passed by the National People’s Congress in March are timely panaceas enabling Hong Kong to move from chaos to governance and realizing “patriots administering Hong Kong”. For most Hong Kong people, the central government under the CPC leadership is a political messiah putting our house in order, which is pivotal for the unswerving implementation of “one country, two systems”.
With strong and incessant support from the central government since the handover, Hong Kong has always emerged economically unscathed after waves of global financial crisis. In 2003, under the auspices of the central government, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle was concluded between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. It has greatly boosted the trading and service sectors in Hong Kong especially when its economy was in prolonged doldrums caused by the Asian financial crisis and aggravated by the SARS epidemic outbreak. Subsequently, green lights given by mainland regulators on cross-border liberalization measures, i.e., Stock Connect and Bond Connect among the bourses of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai have facilitated Hong Kong to maintain its status as one of the leading global financial markets. Lately, the strategic inclusion of Hong Kong as a key member of the national development blueprint for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has enabled Hong Kong to benefit from synergy with closer socioeconomic integration with the motherland.
Against the political backdrop of tension and hostility in the US-China relationship, it is inevitable that Hong Kong, being a piece in the geopolitical chess game between the United States and China, will face various challenges and risks. However, by “staying true to our aspiration and mission” under the leadership of the CPC, there will be no doubt that the vessel of “one country, two systems” will sail far despite the rain and storms.
At the CPC centenary celebration, President Xi declared, “We will stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong ... with a high degree of autonomy.” Hong Kong people can rest assured that a brighter future for Hong Kong is coming.
The author is a Hong Kong practicing solicitor and chairman of Y Legalites.
Source：China Daily ［2021-07-15］