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The steadfast and successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”

Last week I was interviewed by media to talk about to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR to implement the fundamental principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” to be deliberated in the National People's Congress meeting.

The fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) commenced last week, in which one of the agenda items was the deliberation on a decision to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to implement the fundamental principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. Following the legislation of safeguarding the national security in Hong Kong by the NPC and its standing committee at a national level last year, this is another exercise to ensure the smooth operation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle in Hong Kong by improving the legal framework and the related mechanisms to clarify the bottom-line and norms. By plugging the loopholes in the existing system, it helps to ensure the effective governance of the HKSAR and the steadfast and successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”, laying a strong foundation for the prosperity and development of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has always been a pluralistic and open society with a close relation with the international community and deep connection with our Country. However, as the local political environment evolves in recent year, “loving the Country and Hong Kong” has been adversely labelled, and there were disrespectful acts towards national anthem, flag and emblem, as well as acts advocating Hong Kong independence and separatism inside and outside the institution at different level of platforms. Some have even turned the advocacy into actions and solicited external forces with the objective of denying the Country’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and alienating Hong Kong from China.

Hong Kong is an inalienable part of our Country and is a special administrative region established based on the Constitution of the Country and the Basic Law. Being a part of the Country, Hong Kong has the duty and responsibility to safeguard the national security, the territorial integrity and the development interests of our Country. This is also of paramount importance to Hong Kong because national security is the basis for “Two Systems” and the cornerstone for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. If the principle of “One Country” is jeopardised, there will be no basis for the operation of the “Two Systems”, nor the development of Hong Kong, including our role as an international financial centre.

As the international political landscape intensifies in recent years, the problem has become more critical. After going through reform and opening up for more than 40 years, our Country’s GDP now exceeds 1 trillion RMB. Many countries are expecting China to play a more active role in the enhancement of the global governance system. However, the US and some Western countries have been taking an unfriendly or even hostile attitude towards China, with an intention to disturb or even suppress its development. Under the ever-complicated international environment, Hong Kong has been used as a “pawn” over the past few years to hinder the development of the Country or even subvert the state power. As seen from the development of the social incident in 2019, the intervention of external forces not only have exacerbated the social unrest in Hong Kong and undermined Government’s capability to address local discontents and other livelihoods issues, but also directly endangered the national security and dealt a serious blow to the basis of the “One Country, Two Systems”.

Against this background, the legislation in safeguarding national security and the comprehensive implementation of the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle are actually in the same vein and undoubtedly rightful. It helps to resolve a predicament that Hong Kong itself could not address and plug the loopholes of the national security in Hong Kong at the legal and institutional level. It is indeed fundamental political ethics and prerequisite for all those participating in the governance of Hong Kong, including the HKSAR Government personnel and others taking part in the whole governance system, to love the Country and Hong Kong, respect and uphold the Constitution and the Basic Law. In fact, other places around the world also requires people participating in governance to safeguard the national interests.

The purpose of amending the electoral system to implement the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” is to plug the loopholes in the existing system, so as to preventing separatism and other unconstitutional advocacy from entering Hong Kong’s governance system. This is crucial to Hong Kong’s long term stability, including whether we could provide a stable environment for developing our economy and improving people’s livelihoods. Some people may concern whether the amendment will narrow down the space for councilors to deliberate policies and scrutinise the Government. Nonetheless, the amendment will eliminate the elements that endanger the security and interests of the Country and Hong Kong from the system, so as to avoid the situation of pan-politicisation and non-functioning of the Legislative Council in recent years. Only by doing so, we could make concentrated efforts to promote and enhance the development of Hong Kong on all fronts, and create space for us to gradually address the deep-seated economic and social issues.

Safeguarding the national security and interests is a universal requirement for different places around the world. Yet China’s unique political system and the innovative “One Country, Two Systems” principle may have caused ill feeling for some strong advocates of Western-style democracy and economic system. We have seen negative reactions which are inexplicable, perhaps due to stubborn mindset, self-interested consideration, ideology or political bias.

Take the Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation of the US as an example. Before the sudden exclusion of Hong Kong from the Index this year, Hong Kong has topped the chart for 25 years, and ranked second last year, out of the 27-year history of the Index. Hong Kong always ranked high in the areas of financial freedom, trade freedom, business freedom and fiscal health, which are the long-established parameters used by the Foundation in compiling its Index. Our strength and leading position in these areas have not changed during the assessment period. Hong Kong’s exclusion from the Index is a result of a change in game rules by the Foundation based on political bias. The more than 9000 Mainland and overseas companies now operating in Hong Kong and actively expanding their businesses is a strong testimony of Hong Kong’s attractiveness to investors in terms of our market potential, development opportunities and investment returns. Nonetheless, in response to those unsubstantiated accusations and allegations, we have issued a statement to put forward our clarification.

The unprecedented principle of “One Country, Two Systems” have been implemented for over 24 years since 1997. Gradual enhancements are needed taking into account experiences learned in the process. The comprehensive and correct implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle will enable Hong Kong to position itself in the Country’s development and make our unique contribution, so that we could join hands with the Country to progress steadily.

March 7, 2021


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