Stick to our own de­vel­op­ment path

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chair­man of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, chair­man of Our Hong Kong Foun­da­tion and former chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hong Kong, de­liv­ered a key­note speech on Mon­day at a fo­rum on China’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and mod­ern so­cial de­vel­op­ment. In the speech he dis­cussed the is­sue of democ­racy and said China must forge its own de­vel­op­ment path in or­der to main­tain the long-term sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity of the na­tion. He also cited some hard facts to sup­port his view that Western-style democ­racy has failed to de­liver on too many oc­ca­sions re­cently. The ex­am­ples he cited in the speech in­clude the plight of North African and Mid­dle East­ern na­tions rav­aged by po­lit­i­cal strife and even civil war as a re­sult of “color rev­o­lu­tions” in re­cent years, as well as In­dia, which is of­ten de­scribed by Western me­dia as the world’s largest democ­racy (in terms of pop­u­la­tion). He noted that both China and In­dia be­gan push­ing for eco­nomic re­form in the 1980s but China’s per capita GDP in 2015 was five times that of In­dia, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank.

To be fair, the two great na­tions have a few sim­i­lar­i­ties but many more dif­fer­ences. There is no telling whether or not In­dia would have achieved what China has in the past 40 years or so with­out Western-style democ­racy or the other way around. The point is, as Tung stressed in his speech, Western-style democ­racy char­ac­ter­ized by multi-party com­pe­ti­tion is not and can­not be the only stan­dard in as­sess­ing a coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

Tung said he was born and raised in China when the coun­try was at its weak­est and he felt the pain and hope­less­ness many peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enced then. It is a his­tor­i­cal fact that makes what the na­tion has achieved over the past few decades all the more im­pres­sive. That’s why he is so proud to be a part of China’s suc­cess; and why he be­lieves the peo­ple of Hong Kong need to learn about the coun­try’s his­tory in or­der to un­der­stand that the na­tion has to have its own de­vel­op­ment path, in­clud­ing its own demo­cratic sys­tem, that fits the na­tional con­di­tion and can meet its de­vel­op­ment needs.

In­deed, the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” pol­icy is part of such an ef­fort. Un­der this po­lit­i­cal ar­range­ment, Hong Kong has been able to keep its cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy and ex­er­cise rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy sim­i­lar to but not ex­actly the same as the typ­i­cal Western-style democ­racy. The rea­son is sim­ple: This is the most suitable po­lit­i­cal sys­tem for Hong Kong as a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion of China.

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