Why Pres­i­dent Xi has set the record straight

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - XIAO PING

“One coun­try, two sys­tems” is made of two sides ex­actly in that or­der, never the other way around. In this re­spect, up­hold­ing the na­tion’s sovereignty, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests must al­ways come first, fol­lowed by main­tain­ing Hong Kong’s long-term pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity (spo­ken at the 18th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China). Like­wise, the cen­tral author­i­ties’ right to main­tain di­rect ju­ris­dic­tion over Hong Kong ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Ba­sic Law of the HKSAR al­ways comes first, fol­lowed by en­sur­ing Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy (spo­ken at the 4 th Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the CPC).

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s power and na­tional se­cu­rity are not only what “one coun­try, two sys­tems” is de­signed to serve but right on top of all other pur­poses as well. That means they al­ways come be­fore the rest. Xi has put it well — “one coun­try” is the root, as in deep roots sus­tain­ing rich fo­liage; and “one coun­try” is the core, as in a strong core sus­tain­ing more branches. Rights al­ways come with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and in equal mea­sure. One can­not en­joy the as­sur­ance and sup­port pro­vided by the coun­try while ig­nor­ing na­tional in­ter­ests, to the point even the na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion ac­cord­ing to the Ar­ti­cle 23 of the Ba­sic Law has been de­layed for so many years. Such im­bal­ance be­tween rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties can­not last long.

Dur­ing his visit to Hong Kong in May last year, Zhang De­jiang, chair­man of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, urged Hong Kong so­ci­ety to “never for­get the orig­i­nal in­tent (of ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’)”. While Zhang’s words were prac­ti­cally still ring­ing in our ears, Xi pro­vided in his ca­pac­ity as head of State the most au­thor­i­ta­tive def­i­ni­tion of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” in which Hong Kong res­i­dents must do their best to ap­pre­ci­ate. Only when re­set to the right course could the ship of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” sail far and smoothly.

The au­thor is a vet­eran cur­rent af­fairs com­men­ta­tor.

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