Zhang: HKMAO is ‘match­maker’ in in­te­gra­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By KATHY ZHANG in Hong Kong kathyzhang@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The Hong Kong and Ma­cao Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil should play a “match­maker” role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the Hong Kong and Ma­cao spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gions’ in­te­gra­tion into the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment, said the of­fice’s di­rec­tor Zhang Xiaom­ing.

Zhang was de­liv­er­ing a speech at a meet­ing cel­e­brat­ing the of­fice’s 40th an­niver­sary on Thurs­day in Bei­jing. He said the of­fice should help both SARs tar­get op­por­tu­ni­ties in the na­tional-level de­vel­op­ment blue­prints such as the Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The of­fice should also con­cen­trate on things which ben­e­fit Hong Kong and Ma­cao res­i­dents, Zhang added.

Since Au­gust 2017, the of­fice has helped in­tro­duce con­crete mea­sures to fa­cil­i­tate Hong Kong and Ma­cao peo­ple study­ing, work­ing and liv­ing on the Chi­nese main­land.

Such mea­sures in­clude end­ing the em­ploy­ment per­mit re­quire­ment for Hong Kong and Ma­cao res­i­dents work­ing on the main­land. Peo­ple from the two SARs liv­ing on the main­land can also ap­ply for res­i­dence per­mits now.

Press­ing ahead with the Hong Kong and Ma­cao SARs’ in­te­gra­tion into the coun­try will be the HKMAO’s fu­ture work fo­cus, Zhang added.

But the of­fice head de­nied that in­te­gra­tion means ob­scur­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two SARs and the main­land, or turn­ing Hong Kong and Ma­cao into main­land cities. He noted that work by the of­fice would strictly fol­low the prin­ci­ple of “one coun­try, two sys­tems”, and be in ac­cor­dance with the law.

In ad­di­tion, Zhang said the of­fice would con­tinue to act as a “gate­keeper” for the com­pre­hen­sive im­ple­men­ta­tion of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple.

On one hand, the HKMAO will respect dif­fer­ences of the two sys­tems, en­sure a high de­gree of au­ton­omy in the SARs and ex­tend firm sup­port to their law-based gov­er­nance, Zhang noted.

On the other, the of­fice will firmly main­tain “one coun­try” prin­ci­ple and have zero tol­er­ance for all be­hav­ior which vi­o­lates the prin­ci­ple and the Ba­sic Law — such as Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence ad­vo­cacy.

Zhang called for proac­tive ac­tion, in­no­va­tive think­ing and in-depth study to deal with af­fairs of both SARs.

In his speech, Zhang also called on of­fice mem­bers to re­main true to the of­fice’s orig­i­nal as­pi­ra­tions. This means firmly safe­guard na­tional unity and sovereignty and main­tain­ing Hong Kong and Ma­cao SARs’ long-term pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity.

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