Stick to our own development path
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.