Hong Kong needs ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ to thrive

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF HKSAR - YA N G S H E N G

The Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion turns 20 to­day. It is well-known that the past 20 years have not been easy for the city of more than 7 mil­lion, which makes all the achieve­ments un­der “one coun­try, two sys­tems” so far ab­so­lutely sat­is­fy­ing and en­cour­ag­ing. Hav­ing en­joyed the ben­e­fit of the un­prece­dented con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ment through thick and thin, peo­ple should have no prob­lem ap­pre­ci­at­ing the im­mense wis­dom and com­pas­sion that went into the gift that is “one coun­try, two sys­tems”. That is why Hong Kong so­ci­ety must cher­ish and pro­tect it whole­heart­edly.

Some peo­ple may not know this, but re­sum­ing the ex­er­cise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Ma­cao was al­ways part of the Chi­nese na­tion’s undy­ing pur­suit of peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion, which has been a fun­da­men­tal na­tional ob­jec­tive since the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic on Oct 1, 1949. Now that both Hong Kong and Ma­cao are back un­der China’s sov­er­eign rule, the two cities will re­main spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gions of the PRC un­til a change is nec­es­sary, but Chi­nese ter­ri­tory for­ever. When it comes to sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity there is no room for bar­gain­ing.

Back when the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment was dis­cussing a proper so­lu­tion to the Hong Kong ques­tion with its Bri­tish coun­ter­part in the 1980s, there was never any doubt China would re­sume sovereignty over Hong Kong, what­ever it took. The real ques­tion was how best to sus­tain the city’s cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy and unique life­style, in­clud­ing its blended cul­ture and di­verse so­ci­ety, and that is where “one coun­try, two sys­tems” comes in. As some peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the process of iron­ing out all the wrin­kles in the Sino-Bri­tish Joint Dec­la­ra­tion would say: The rest is his­tory.

Of course many Hong Kong peo­ple who lacked con­fi­dence in Bei­jing’s abil­ity to keep its prom­ise em­i­grated to other coun­tries be­fore 1997, only to come back some years later. Clearly they re­turned on their own free will, since no one could have stopped them without good rea­son. The fact is Hong Kong has done much bet­ter than many peo­ple thought pos­si­ble; and those who still refuse to reckon with it to­day are sim­ply in de­nial or too bi­ased to tell right from wrong. Then there are those who be­lieve they have the right and free­dom to say what­ever they want in their own best in­ter­est, in­clud­ing lies.

For ex­am­ple, some in­di­vid­u­als with ul­te­rior mo­tives claimed re­peat­edly over the years that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment had been un­der­cut­ting the high de­gree of au­ton­omy stip­u­lated by the Ba­sic Law, mainly through in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Ba­sic Law. But they have failed con­sis­tently to con­vince the pub­lic they are right, be­cause they have no re­spect for the Ba­sic Law in the first place and are not qual­i­fied to in­ter­pret it any­way. The fact is all their ac­cu­sa­tions against the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties con­cern­ing “one coun­try, two sys­tems”, “Hong Kong peo­ple ad­min­is­ter­ing Hong Kong” and high de­gree of au­ton­omy are based on de­lib­er­ate mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ba­sic Law in­stead of hard facts.

The un­de­ni­able truth is that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and HKSAR Gov­ern­ment al­ways faith­fully and strictly abide by the Ba­sic Law as well as the na­tion’s Con­sti­tu­tion, be it in ex­er­cis­ing the right and power as the sov­er­eign state or han­dling Hong Kong af­fairs that fall un­der the SAR gov­ern­ment’s ju­ris­dic­tion as pre­scribed in the Ba­sic Law, which is a na­tional law based on the Con­sti­tu­tion, not a lo­cal law by any stretch of the name. As for in­ter­pre­ta­tion of dif­fer­ent ar­ti­cles of the Ba­sic Law by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, it was ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary be­cause hos­tile forces bent on un­der­min­ing “one coun­try, two sys­tems” tried to mis­lead the pub­lic with mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Ba­sic Law to jus­tify un­con­sti­tu­tional in­tents, such as “self-de­ter­mi­na­tion” and “Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence”.

In the past 20 years Hong Kong has over­come a num­ber of very se­ri­ous chal­lenges and grown stronger and smarter in terms of han­dling po­ten­tially dis­as­trous sit­u­a­tions, thanks to un­re­served sup­port from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and main­land com­pa­tri­ots as well as “one coun­try, two sys­tems”. That is why the HKSAR must do its best to en­sure the in­tegrity and ef­fec­tive­ness of the con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ment by faith­fully fol­low­ing the Ba­sic Law and con­tribut­ing to na­tional se­cu­rity con­sci­en­tiously.

The fact is Hong Kong has done much bet­ter than many peo­ple thought pos­si­ble.

The au­thor is a cur­rent af­fairs com­men­ta­tor.

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