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Commentary: 'One country' key to `two systems'
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-02-23 01:30

Professor Xia Yong's article, released by Xinhua Sunday, expounded on the relationship between "One Country" and "Two Systems".

It not only explains in detail Deng Xiaoping's key remark on Hong Kong two decades ago, but also serves to correct the partial interpretation and deliberate distortion of descriptions of "One Country, Two Systems" by some people in Hong Kong.

As we mentioned before, there exists in the SAR an alarming phenomenon: some people talk generally about "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" but neglect the specific content of these principles.

More than six years after Hong Kong's return to the motherland, it comes as no surprise that many people are still not able to have a better grasp of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. However, such a situation must be improved as soon as possible. Otherwise, these people will follow blindly or be misled by others over issues that concern the basic principles of "One Country Two Systems" such as constitutional development.

The relationship between "One Country" and "Two Systems" is the core and gist of the arrangement. To sum it up in Deng Xiaoping's words: To practise "two systems" under the premise of "one country".

What is a premise? In logic, a premise is a judgment that can be used to deduce another judgment. That is to say, there will be no conclusion without the premise. Deng put it simply: Without the premise of "One country", Hong Kong's prosperity and stability will be nowhere.

After reunification, it is true that some people in Hong Kong have been emphasizing "Two Systems" and neglecting "One Country". To put it less bluntly, what they are practising is pragmatism.

Politically, they stress "Two Systems" and are reluctant to allow the central government to participate in the SAR's constitutional development. They are not even willing to assume the responsibility of national security.

On the economic front, however, they emphasize "One Country", hoping the central authorities and the mainland will lend Hong Kong a helping hand. Such a self-centred logic will inevitably lead to discord between "Two Systems" and compromise the foundation of "One Country".

Thanks to the selfless love and care of the motherland, Hong Kong has been able to overcome a number of challenges after the handover in 1997. The central government has never intervened in affairs within the realm of Hong Kong's autonomy. Nor has it taken a penny from the territory. Whenever the SAR faces major hurdles, the central government always gives its strong backing.

The more it does that, the more Hong Kong people should treasure the favourable situation provided by the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement and develop a stronger sense of national identity. They should self-consciously safeguard the country's sovereignty and security and respect the authority of the central government and the mainland systems.

On the first anniversary of the Macao SAR, the then president Jiang Zemin also elaborated on the relationship between "One Country" and "Two Systems".

He said that "One Country" refers to the fact that the SAR is a part of the motherland and the mainland is always the SAR's massive backup force. As to "Two Systems", he said that it means that two different systems are implemented respectively on the mainland and in the SAR, and Beijing would not interfere in the affairs within the jurisdiction of the SAR's autonomy. On the other hand, the SAR would also have to protect the central government's authority and the country's well-being and must not allow a handful of people to make use of the SAR to engage in activities against the central government and to divide the country.

"One Country" and "Two Systems" do not carry the same weight. Without "One Country", there would have been no "Two Systems".

Living up to his reputation as a legal expert, Xia has been able to explain the abstruse legal theories in simple terms and in a systemic way and provide thorough and deep analysis. We believe that anybody reading this article with a mind open to rational discussion will benefit from it. Readers should reflect upon their past understanding of "One Country, Two Systems" and try to correct their own mistakes, if any.

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