Commentary: "One country, two systems" works in Hong Kong
14:38, June 29, 2007
|At one time Hong Kong amazed the world as it transformed itself from a colonial fishing outpost into an economic miracle. Today it's impressing the globe again tobecome a political wonderworks -- a capitalist city thriving in a socialist country.
Ten years after its return to China, Hong Kong -- with its political, economic and social systems largely unchanged since theend of British rule -- has evolved along with the rest of the country to become even more vibrant and prosperous. The naysayers of the "one country, two systems" must surely be embarrassed.
The "one country, two systems" was first put forward by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s as a potential solution to China's thorny Taiwan issue. The creative compromise formula charted the way to Hong Kong's successful and peaceful return to China in 1997.
The basics of the system saved face, instilled pride and maintained peace. It allowed the British a graceful exit and returned to China what was rightfully due.
It all came to pass at the end of Britain's 99-year lease over Hong Kong, which had been signed after foreign powers of the day purposefully debilitated China with massive imports of opium.
Britain had already been the chauvinistic ruler of Hong Kong Island for five decades when it forced the teetering Qing dynasty in 1898 after the Opium Wars to lease areas south of Shenzhen River and north of the Boundary Street and more than 200 nearby isles for 99 years.
Not even a bit of revenge or atonement was sought by China's leaders during the handover negotiations. The cooperative approachfound in the "one-country, two-systems" formula has now become a staple of China's foreign policy.
The policies entrenched in the agreement have been faithfully implemented by the central government and they have helped Hong Kong to quickly change its identity from a former British colony to a special administrative region of China.
Over the past decade, maintaining Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity has remained the primary consideration ofthe Chinese central government in all its dealings with Hong Kong.
Top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin, have staunchly supported the principles of the agreement and have guarded Hong Kong's security as one would amember of the family.
During the Asian financial crisis, the Chinese central government stood shoulder with Hong Kong as the city fought off currency speculators and survived the financial disaster that ravaged so many Asian economies.
The central government was also a first-responder of aid when Hong Kong became ground zero in the SARS health crisis and continues to protect the region with rigid border policies aimed at controlling the spread of the bird flu.
While dealing with difficulties has been a mainstay of the 10-year-old relationship, the "one-country two-systems" formula has also helped broaden horizons, create wealth and provide a new sense of self confidence in the entire nation.
In 2003, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong signed the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), gradually scrapping tariffs on products manufactured in Hong Kong, expanding market access for Hong Kong services on the mainland, and improving tradeand investment facilities.
To help rejuvenate Hong Kong's tourism industry, the central government has made it easier for more mainland residents to visitHong Kong. This has helped create thousands jobs and brought billions of dollars into the city each year.
The enhanced economic cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland has helped propel Hong Kong's image as a prosperous free port of the orient and maintain its international prestige.
The high degree of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys under the "one country, two systems" has enabled Hong Kong people to become the "real masters" of their soil.
Since the 1997, Hong Kong has held three elections for chief executive officer. Prior to the handover, Hong Kong's governors were simply appointed from London. They were all white men as weremost of the top civil service officials.
Now the top leader of Hong Kong, known as the Chief Executive, is elected by a kind of electoral colleague, which is made up of elected representatives from various sectors such as labor and business.
As anniversary celebrations this weekend acknowledge the Hong Kong success story, even the one-time pessimists have to admit that city is now stronger and more mature and certain of its future.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong showedthat Hong Kong people's trust in the central government and the ideas embodied in the "one country, two systems" have reached a new height.
About 78 percent of Hong Kong people said they have confidence in the the formula and 81 percent believe in a bright future for Hong Kong.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose government negotiated the handover agreement 13 years ago, recently told the BBC that the worries about Hong Kong's future "have largely proved groundless."
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in a speech during a recent visit that there have been some bumpy moments overthe past ten years, but the more dire predictions have not come true. "One country, two systems has worked," she said.