“One Country, Two Systems” Policy
The Chinese Consul General in Johannesburg Tang Zhongdong Published a Signed Article
6 July 2022
July 1, 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Twenty-five years ago, Hong Kong, “pearl of the orient”, was handed back to the embrace of China, wiping away the century-old humiliation of the Chinese nation and completing an important step towards China’s complete reunification. Since then, Hong Kong has reintegrated itself into the nation, embarked on a broad path of common development and mutual promotion with the mainland, and unfolded a new era of “one country, two systems” and “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong” with a high degree of autonomy. With the strong support of the Central Government of China, Hong Kong, “pearl of the orient”, will shine even more brightly.
During his visit to Hong Kong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of the People’s Republic of China, said that Hong Kong has always been in his heart and the heart of the Central Government of China. Over the past period, Hong Kong has withstood one severe test after another, surmounted one risky challenge after another, and reborn with greater vitality.
I. Hong Kong has achieved world-acknowledged great development since its return
Under the great practice of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has made remarkable achievements in its development over the past 25 years. Hong Kong’s economy has sustained steady growth, and its role as a significant international financial, shipping and trade center has been further consolidated. From 1997 to 2021, Hong Kong’s major economic indexes have doubled. Its GDP increased from HK $1.37 trillion to HK $2.86 trillion, and its per capita GDP rose from HK $192,000 to HK $387,100, and its fiscal reserves grew from HK $457.5 billion to HK $957.2 billion. In 2021, the average daily turnover of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s stock market was HK $166.7 billion, more than 10 times that of 1997.
Over the past 25 years, the mainland and Hong Kong have deepened their economic and trade exchanges and cooperation at a higher level and in more fields, showing a good momentum of mutual integration and advancement. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, the mainland-Hong Kong trade volume increased by 6.1 times from US $50.77 billion in 1997 to US $360.33 billion in 2021. By the end of 2021, the mainland had attracted more than US $1.4 trillion accumulative investment from Hong Kong, accounting for 57.6% of the mainland’s total inbound investment. The mainland’s accumulative non-financial direct investment in Hong Kong had exceeded US $800 billion, accounting for 53.2% of the mainland’s total outbound non-financial direct investment.
Hong Kong owes its prosperity and stability to the full support of the Central Government of China, as well as its mutual promotion with the mainland and connectivity with the rest of the world. By integrating into China’s overall development, Hong Kong has become an important participant in China’s domestic economic cycle and an important promoter of the integration of domestic and international economic cycles of China. With the ever-growing development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the trend of integrated development of Hong Kong and the mainland is becoming stronger than ever.
II. “One country, two systems” is the fundamental institutional guarantee for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability
In his speech at the ceremony on July 1, President Xi Jinping pointed out that “one country, two systems” has been tested repeatedly in practice. “It serves the fundamental interests of not only Hong Kong and Macao, but also the whole country and the nation. It has gained wide support from the 1.4 billion-plus Chinese people including the residents of Hong Kong and Macao. It is also widely accepted by the international community. There is no reason for us to change such a good policy, and we must adhere to it in the long run”, he said.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has masterminded and led the practice of “one country, two systems” and upheld it as a basic policy. It has been affirmed by each and every CPC national congresses and major conferences since 1980s and enshrined into the Constitution of China. It has also been legalized and institutionalized into the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The CPC Central Committee listed “one country, two systems” as an important part of the major achievements and historical experience of the CPC over the past century, as indicated in an historic resolution adopted in 2021.
President Xi Jinping has made insightful remarks on the relationship between “one country” and “two systems” on many occasions. For example, he used the metaphor of “root” and “leaf”, saying that “only when the root is deep can the leaf be flourishing”. The Chinese government must adhere to the principle of “one country” and respect the differences of the “two systems”, safeguard the Central Government’s overall governance over the HKSAR and ensure a high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR, play well the role of the mainland as a staunch supporter of the Hong Kong and enhance Hong Kong’s own competitiveness. In the new era, the Chinese government must and will continue to accurately and fully implement the policies of “one country, two systems”. The government of HKSAR must and will implement the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong”, safeguard the constitutional order of the HKSAR as stipulated in the Constitution and the Basic Law, safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests as well as the overall social stability of the HKSAR, and maintain the long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.
Facts have proven that “one country, two systems” has great vitality and is a good system for ensuring Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability and safeguarding the well-being of Hong Kong people. As long as the Chinese government and people adhere unswervingly to the principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong will have an even brighter future and make greater contribution to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
III. The Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR is the latest successful practice of “one country, two systems”
In the second half of 2019, some radical forces in Hong Kong openly advocated “Hong Kong independence” and attempted to split the country. They incited various violent protests, which injured a large number of police officers and innocent citizen and severely damaged governmental departments. The practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong has encountered unprecedented challenges.
On June 30, 2020, the 20th Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress of China unanimously adopted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Linzheng Yuee, HKSAR’s then Chief Executive, signed the document, and the Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR came into effect that night, completely ending the disorder in Hong Kong.
The enactment and implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR has improved the “one country, two systems”, making it clear that the Central Government of China has the full authority to safeguard national security under the “one country, two systems” framework. The Law embodies the combination of the Central Government’s overall governance over HKSAR and the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy. Over the past two years since the implementation of the Law, people have corrected the concept of favoring “two systems” over “one country”, and thus the Law laid a solid foundation and bottom line for “one country”. The implementation of the Law has not only effectively refuted the long-held fallacy between “one country” and “two systems” and between the Constitution and the basic law, but also brought “one country, two systems” back to its original aspiration and the right track.
The Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR has established a political culture and consciousness consistent with “one country, two systems”. Over the past two years, the deterrence generated by the Law has warned exterior interference forces, cracked down on stubborn interior insurgents, encouraged those who truly loved China and Hong Kong and educated those who were hesitated in the middle. Facts have shown that the Law not only keeps the rule of law and judicial independence intact, but also brings about more confidence of Hong Kong people in judicial independence.
The Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR has built public consensus and established a national security education system compatible with the “one country, two systems”. During the implementation of the Law, the HKSAR Government incorporated national security education into the education system according to legal provisions, which made up for the lack of national security education in Hong Kong’s education for a long time.
IV. Hong Kong’s tomorrow will be better
Backed by the mainland market and connected with the international market, Hong Kong enjoys unique development conditions. It has always been an important gateway for China’s interactions with the world and an international financial, shipping and trade center in the Asia-Pacific region. In recent years, with the national support, the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has provided Hong Kong with extremely broad development space and unprecedented development opportunities.
The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core has high expectations for Hong Kong’s bright future. At the ceremony, President Xi Jinping expressed four hopes for the new HKSAR government and people from all walks of life. First, Hong Kong should further improve its governance and demonstrate a new atmosphere of good governance. Second, Hong Kong should continue to create strong impetus for growth and fully unleash the great creativity and vitality of Hong Kong society. Third, Hong Kong should earnestly address people’s concerns and difficulties and ensure that all citizens benefit more fairly from the city’s development. Fourth, the people of Hong Kong should work together to safeguard harmony and stability and jointly create a better life.
The HKSAR government and people from all walks of life are also full of confidence in a better future for Hong Kong. Li Jiachao, Chief Executive of the HKSAR’s sixth government, promises to lead the governing team to unite the whole society in Hong Kong, fully and accurately implement the principles of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy, uphold the constitution and the basic law to maintain constitutional order and safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and contribute to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
On the new journey to achieve China’s second centenary goal of realizing the great rejuvenation, Hong Kong has much to contribute. The Chinese people believe that with the great support of the mainland and the solid guarantee of “one country, two systems” and the Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR, Hong Kong will absolutely make progress in political democracy, the rule of law, freedom, openness, inclusiveness, harmony, prosperity and stability. Keeping China in mind and facing the world, Hong Kong will certainly be able to create greater glory and make greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.