Yang Sheng says central government’s support for ‘One Country, Two Systems’ will never waver
President Xi Jinping will pay a three-day visit to Hong Kong from Thursday to Saturday to join in the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of China’s resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The much-anticipated visit is yet another demonstration of the importance Xi attaches to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It’s appropriate at this juncture to review the president’s past relations with the city and, more importantly, how he has helped One Country, Two Systems stay on course over the years.
Xi’s bonds with Hong Kong were first established during the 22 years he had worked since 1985 in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and in Shanghai, where much of the investments from Hong Kong were concentrated at the time. In January 2005, when he was Party secretary of Zhejiang province, Xi led a provincial delegation to Hong Kong to promote the province’s trade and commercial ties with the city.
Xi’s official relations with Hong Kong began when he took charge of the Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs after being elected a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee at the Party’s 17th National Congress in 2007. During the two sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) subsequently held in Beijing, Xi had met with Hong Kong’s NPC deputies and CPPCC members many times and given them invaluable advice on the SAR’s development.
Under Xi’s leadership, the first crucial step toward achieving universal suffrage in the Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections was accomplished when the method of selecting the CE and LegCo members in 2012 became law. New ground was broken in the implementation of One Country, Two Systems. It was clarified that the arrangement is designed to maintain the nation’s sovereignty and security while ensuring the long-term stability and prosperity of the HKSAR. Complete and precise implementation of One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong and a high degree of autonomy require adhering to One Country principle at all times, while respecting the differences between Two Systems; maintaining the central government’s power while sustaining the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy; and letting the mainland provide strong support while increasing Hong Kong’s competitiveness. And none of these can be neglected in favor of another.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in November 2012, when Xi was elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, he has introduced a series of important policies on implementing One Country, Two Systems.
Some Hong Kong residents lost sight of the political future after the opposition camp in June 2015 vetoed the government’s constitutional reform bill designed to elect the CE by universal suffrage in 2017. In December 2015, Xi told CE Leung Chun-ying at a meeting in Beijing: The exercise of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in Hong Kong has faced some new circumstances in recent years. My emphasis is on the fact that the central government will always insist on two things in maintaining ‘One Country, Two Systems’. One is absolute determination that will never change or waver. The other is absolute precision that makes sure the implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in Hong Kong will never lose its original shape and form, and will always proceed along the right course down the road.
In his speeches in recent years, Xi had emphasized three main points concerning the implementation of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong in the last five years or so. Firstly, exercising One Country, Two Systems must serve the common interests of Hong Kong as well as the nation; secondly, advancing the cause of One Country, Two Systems is a common wish of all people of Chinese descent; and, thirdly, the central government resolutely supports the CE and the HKSAR Government in administering Hong Kong according to the Basic Law and Hong Kong laws.
Xi has acted as the beacon light for the implementation of One Country, Two Systems. Hong Kong people expect to hear from him again his personal invaluable advice in a few days’ time.
The author is a current affairs commentator.