Hong Kong is among the most familiar Chinese cities to many people. As an international financial center, news about Hong Kong often appear on the press. After its return to the motherland, I worked in Hong Kong for 3 years, and have been paying close attention to Hong Kong’s development since leaving. I would like to introduce Hong Kong’s system and reform development to local friends in Dutch Caribbean.
Over the past two decades since its return to the motherland, Hong Kong has retained its previous capitalist system and way of life under the practice of “One Country, Two Systems”. The people of Hong Kong, now run their local affairs within the purview of autonomy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and enjoy more extensive democratic rights and freedoms than at any other time in history. Hong Kong’s ties with the mainland have grown increasingly close, and the economy are further integrated. It has successfully withstood the Asian financial crisis in 1997 as well as the global financial crisis in 2008, and has increased external interactions and raised its international profile.
Besides emerging stronger as an international financial, shipping and trading center, Hong Kong has made substantial advances in various programs and the path of development has become broader. The practice fully demonstrates that the concept of “One Country, Two Systems” provides the best solution to the historical question of Hong Kong and the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. There is no doubt that “One Country, Two Systems” has a strong vitality and an institutional superiority.
I. Upholding and Improving “One Country, Two Systems”
“One Country, Two Systems” is a great political initiative pursued by China that has no precedent to follow. Its implementation is not always smooth sailing, but requires exploration, improvement and development in practice. In the year 2019, starting from the turbulence over proposed legislative amendments, under blatant external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, Hong Kong has witnessed rampant “Hong Kong independence” rhetoric and actions, social unrest and economic downturn. It has grossly trampled on China's national sovereignty, security and development interests, and exposed the huge risks that Hong Kong has in maintaining national security, posing severe challenges to "One Country, Two Systems".
In order to maintain the stability of Hong Kong and the well-being of Hong Kong people, on June 30th, 2020, the plenary meeting of the 20th session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) voted to adopt the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR. It’s Hong Kong’s turning point from chaos to stability and demonstrates that the central government bears the most important and the ultimate responsibility for safeguarding national security. Since the implementation of national security law, Hong Kong’s social order is getting back on track. “One Country” is upheld and “Two Systems” is guaranteed. The national security law legislation ensures sound and sustained implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”.
II. Improving the Electoral System to Safeguard Hong Kong’s Democracy
Under the colonial rule, there was no democracy to speak of in Hong Kong. Since its return, China’s central government, in accordance with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, guarantees the exercise of democratic rights by residents of the SAR as with the law. However, the anti-China and disrupting-Hong Kong rioting that occurred in Hong Kong’s electoral platforms and legislature in recent years reveal that the existing electoral system in Hong Kong has clear loopholes and deficiencies.
The NPC is China’s highest organ of state power and top legislature, and it has the power and responsibility to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system. On March 11th, 2021, at the fourth session of the 13th NPC, it adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR, follow by the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law of the HKSAR during the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC on March 30th. It is another important move to uphold and improve the “One Country, Two Systems”. It aims to develop, in a gradual and orderly manner, a democratic system that is in line with the constitutional order of Hong Kong and suited to its actual situation. The new electoral system will help improve the governance efficacy of the HKSAR, and help foster a better political, social, legal and business environment and usher in brighter development prospects for Hong Kong.
III. “Hong Kong People Administering Hong Kong” and “Patriots Administering Hong Kong”
“Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” is a principle based on the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. To implement that, the “patriots administering Hong Kong” must always be upheld to ensure the steady practice of “One Country, Two Systems”. To ensure the country or the city being administered only by people who love it is a common practice for almost all countries around the world, and patriotism is what any country would expect of its public servants. Therefore, “patriots administering Hong Kong” is in fact the minimum standard for “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Loving the motherland and loving Hong Kong are consistent requirements. Improving Hong Kong’s electoral system and implementing the "patriots administering Hong Kong" can effectively prevent anti-China forces entering into Hong Kong’s governing system and cause political and social turmoil. The purpose of "patriots administering Hong Kong" is to safeguard national security and development interests, promote Hong Kong's development through good governance, and continue to increase the sense of gains, happiness and security of Hong Kong people.
July 1st of this year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, and it is also the 24th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to the motherland. Hong Kong has the strong support from the central government, and enjoys the concerted dedication of Hong Kong people in all sectors. Hong Kong has the “One Country, Two Systems” framework as the broadest common ground of society, and has gained 24 years’ development and reform experience since its return as well as the trust and confidence of the international community, Hong Kong will be able to overcome all difficulties and challenges and have a bright future.
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Willemstad