“One Country, Two systems” gives Hong Kong a bright future
By Rabi Sankar Bosu
More than 150 years of British colonial rule over Hong Kong ended with the playing of the British National Anthem and the lowering of the Hong Kong and British national flags just before midnight of June 30 and July 1, 1997, as the clock struck midnight, the National Flag of the People's Republic of China and the regional flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China had solemnly risen over Hong Kong. Thus, China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. And Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China on July 1, 1997 under "one country, two systems" principle, formulated by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s. This is a fact which can't be changed by anyone in the name of "Hong Kong self-determination" and "Hong Kong independence."
The July 1, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Hong Kong's return to the motherland is a shining page in the annals of the Chinese nation. The Hong Kong Government has budgeted HK$640 million (US$82.4 million) to celebrate this momentous occasion under the theme of “Together, Progress, Opportunity”.
It is anticipated that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong for the first time since becoming president in 2013 to join Hong Kong’s 20th handover anniversary. Undoubtedly, it is a celebration of national glory, a celebration of the values of "one country, two systems"— the foundation upon which Hong Kong will continue to prosper as one of the world’s great cities.
Enacted in accordance with China's Constitution, the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law specifies the guidelines of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" with a high degree of autonomy. China's Constitution is the legislative basis of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, which should be fully understood. China's Constitution and the Basic Law are the joint basis of the rule of law in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong SAR Basic Law is "a product of ingenuity of a great era," which fully embodies the shared desire of all Chinese including Hong Kong compatriots. The Basic Law has played a vital role over the past 20 years in maintaining prosperity and stability in the Hong Kong SAR. Being part of one China, the 7.3 million people of Hong Kong are "prosperous" due to Hong Kong's "specialness." The Law fully guarantees local residents' rights and freedom.
Carrying on with its existing capitalist social system and way of living, Hong Kong has maintained its status as an international metropolis and financial center in the two decades since its reunification with the motherland. Since 1997 until now, the life of the people living there is getting better. Many outstanding achievements have been made in terms of exercising “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong.
Facts prove that the decision of "one country, two systems," under which Hong Kong’s residents rule themselves with a high degree of autonomy, is totally right. Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong citizens have been enjoying democracy without losing their unique identity or autonomy, thanks to the precise implementation of the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law. With the staunch support of the Central Government in Beijing, Hong Kong has maintained its overall prosperity and stability under the framework of “one country, two systems" principle which stands the test of time.
There is no doubt that "one country, two systems" exercised in Hong Kong SAR is quite successful in the last 20 years in keeping Hong Kong prosperous and safe and gives it a bright future. President Xi Jinping described the "one country, two systems" principle in the HKSAR as a "great success" while meeting with Hong Kong's chief executive - elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on April 11,2017.
On March 26, 2017, the Hong Kong electoral committee of nearly 1,200 people had chosen Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor the fifth chief executive of China's Hong Kong SAR. This is an example of the principle of openness, fair play and justice which uphold the city’s “core values” such as “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong". She will take political command as the first female chief executive in Hong Kong on July 1. It is anticipated that she will build a better Hong Kong for the next generation in accordance with the Basic Law with utmost sincerity and stamina.
However, in recent years some separatist groups are hurting Hong Kong's prosperity and stability by advocating “self-determination” and even “Hong Kong independence”. It’s really unfortunate that some local Hong Kong media along with Western mainstream media are deliberately fueling the extreme opposition forces in Hong Kong. In the name of protecting freedom of speech and publication, a few Hong Kong booksellers are also engaged in destroying the policy of “one country, two systems” by publishing and selling books that attack China’s political system.
It is ridiculous that Hong Kong legislators, including Nathan Law Kwun-Chung and student leaders of the Hong Kong Occupy protest, namely, Joshua Wong, poster boy for so-called "democracy" have been idolized in Western media. These separatist forces are hell-bent on destroying the country and bringing disaster to its people, under the banner of freedom and democracy.
It is a fact that in the 20 years since reunification, people from all walks of life in Hong Kong are experiencing extensive rights and freedoms. With the support from the mainland, Hong Kong is more prosperous nowadays and Hong Kong people should be grateful to all the benefits.
Today, Hong Kong's success is inseparable from China's development and the support by the people on the mainland. Truly, "One Country, Two Systems" policy is the major reason behind Hong Kong's economic success. Chinese leaders are increasingly promoting Hong Kong's unique role in advancing the country's economic development. Hong Kong is right behind New York and London now, but without the support from the mainland, Hong Kong would not be so strong.
Economically, Hong Kong has grown even closer to the mainland. The mainland is Hong Kong’s greatest market. Today, Hong Kong’s economy is doing better than most other free market economies of the world as far as statistics are concerned. Hong Kong’s gross domestic product expanded almost 50 percent to $309 billion between 1997 and 2015. According to official figures, Hong Kong's GDP in 2016 was HK$2.5 trillion ($320 billion). Through the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or CEPA, the mainland imported 9.7 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods from Hong Kong between 2006 and early 2016, with zero tariffs on all Hong Kong products.
Twenty years on, Hong Kong's business environment is getting better. Chinese mainland bankers are boosting their presence in Hong Kong. According to Thomson Reuters data, Chinese Initial Public Offerings (IPO) dominate the Hong Kong market, the world's largest IPO market in 2016 when mainland offerings represented 80 percent of all new listings.
Hong Kong is the top destination for the real estate investment from the Chinese mainland. Last year, mainland's real estate investment in Hong Kong hit over 40 billion HK dollars, only second to New York's record of over 44 billion HK dollars. Moreover, Hong Kong has become a stop on the tourist circuit for millions of mainland Chinese. In 2016 alone, more than 42 million mainlanders travelled to Hong Kong.
The Chinese central government has pledged to boost Hong Kong's role in China's economic development with the "Belt and Road Initiative", put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013. Already, stock-connect projects involving Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and London are being established to support Chinese city clusters' ability to meet the Belt and Road-driven demand for offshore financing.
According to Leung Chun-ying, incumbent chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), “the development plan for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area could be a new booster for Hong Kong's development in the future.” It is hoped that Hong Kong will "take the same boat" with the mainland partners of the Belt and Road Initiative, leverage "one country, two systems" and other advantages to give full play to Hong Kong's role as a "super-connector" between the Chinese mainland as well as ASEAN countries.
Over the past 20 years since Hong Kong returned to China, Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ has worked ‘incredibly well’. The "one country, two systems" framework has benefited Hong Kong and provided the world new experiences of cooperation between regions of different systems, enriching "one country, two systems."
There will always be a rainbow after a storm. Today, the relationship between the mainland and Hong Kong have warmed as the 79-day Occupy Central movement of 2014, commonly known as the Umbrella Movement and the Mong Kok riots last year have faded away. There are lots of people who disagree with independence and so on, so forth because China’s success is for everybody to see.
Hong Kong citizens should understand "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law better. Hopefully, the great majority of Hong Kong people know very well that both mainland China and Hong Kong are inalienable parts of the one single Chinese state and will not become independent. It is hoped Hong Kong will continue to prosper and flourish within China with the premise of the “one country, two systems”.
The author is the Secretary of the New Horizon Radio Listeners’ Club in West Bengal, India. He is also a dedicated listener of China Radio International since 1985 & an opinion contributor with Chinaplus.cri.cn.