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25 years of success in Hong Kong

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online) 17:44, July 04, 2022

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, President Xi Jinping expressed confidence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's (HKSAR) achievement of "a splendid feat" with the solid implementation of "one country, two systems."

Recalling history, throughout which Hong Kong compatriots have always stood together with the motherland, Xi praised the new era of Hong Kong since its return to the motherland in 1997 and the resounding success of "one country, two systems." The practice of "one country, two systems" has achieved success in Hong Kong, which has won recognition throughout the world, Xi said. "There is no reason for us to change such a good policy, and we must adhere to it in the long run," said Xi, whose Hong Kong trip has gained widespread international attention.

From 1997 to 2021, Hong Kong's GDP more than doubled from 1.37 trillion Hong Kong dollars to 2.86 trillion Hong Kong dollars. The region’s economy remains one of the most liberal and open in the world. While boasting a world-class business environment, Hong Kong has maintained its status as an international financial, shipping, and trading center.

Xi hailed the true democracy Hong Kong has enjoyed after its return to the motherland, which ensures the democratic rights of Hong Kong residents and helps maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.

I had the privilege to personally visit Hong Kong before the 1997 handover, when the territory was still under British colonial rule, as well as after 1997 when it was returned to China. I also lived in China for more than seven years (1980-1987) in the 1980s. It was during this time when negotiations were initiated between the Chinese Government and the British Government over the handover of Hong Kong. I witnessed the tough process of negotiations. The British were deploying the lame excuse of protecting Hong Kong’s residents and all the while trying to find an escape from their predicament in one or another way. The visionary Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced the “one country, two systems” framework to ensure that the region of Hong Kong could enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

I am similarly in a position to draw a comparison between the periods before and after 1997 as I lived through both eras. After China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, not only was its prosperity safeguarded, but a large amount of investment was made to improve its centuries-old infrastructure, which led to enhanced economic activities.

Moreover, China has given the residents of the HKSAR a chance to exercise their democratic rights. Since its return, Hong Kong has ensured that its residents can enjoy their status as masters of the region. Previously, the territory of Hong Kong was governed by the UK’s designated governor, without consulting the residents living in the region. There were never any elections or attempts at consultation with the local people.

I believe that it was a significant accomplishment for China to resume its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong peacefully, all without firing a single bullet, and without killing or injuring a single person. It should be cited as a role model for resolving international issues through diplomatic and political dialogue, without the need for entering into war or conflict.

The 25 years of Hong Kong since the handover has been a major success story and China has fulfilled its promises. There is significant trust moving forward that the future of Hong Kong will be very bright.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a non-resident fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected]

The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of People's Daily Online. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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