Why Hu repeatedly highlights 'One Country, Two Systems'?

Updated: 2012-12-01 05:36

By Ip Kwok-Him (HK Edition)

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The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) endorsed the political report delivered by Hu Jintao. Since Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty, the political reports delivered at the CPC national congresses have included a section dedicated to Hong Kong. This time was no exception.

Hu's most recent report not only recognizes the faithful and successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" in Hong Kong, but also states for the first time that the principle rests on three key conditions: The one-country principle must be safeguarded while respecting the differences in the two systems; the authority of the central government must be ensured while implementing a high degree of autonomy for the HKSAR; and HK should fall back on the mainland's staunch support while increasing its own competitiveness.

These conditions clearly identify the roles of the central government and the HKSAR under the "One Country, Two Systems" model, about which Hu says in his report:"... that we should never focus on the one to the neglect of the other."

Hu described the first two conditions in a speech he gave when he presided over the July 1 inauguration ceremony of the Leung Chun-ying administration. However, it was in his capacity as Party general secretary at the 18th CPC National Congress that he added the third condition. So why did Hu decide to highlight again the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" during the relatively short period between July 1 and Nov 8 when the CPC congress opened?

Hu's emphasis on the first and second conditions about the one-country principle and the authority of the central government is seen as a response to some people in Hong Kong, who have focused on the "Two Systems" only while ignoring the "One Country". Among them is Legislative Council member Albert Ho Chun-yan, who recently said that the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" is based not on sovereignty over the territory, but on the implementation of the two systems.

In fact, the concept of "One Country" is inextricably linked with sovereignty. If this were not the case, would it have been suggested Hong Kong as an independent political entity in the name of "a high degree of autonomy"? The farce of the so-called "five constituencies referendum" conducted by legislators from the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats two years ago is a clear example of their challenge to the sovereignty inherent in the concept of "One Country". That action ignored the central government's constitutional right and interfered with the implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. Hong Kong people need to recognize Beijing's sovereignty over Hong Kong, otherwise there cannot be "Two Systems".

The addition of the third condition that the mainland is Hong Kong's staunchest supporter is a further response to what is seen as a misinterpretation of the integration of Hong Kong and the mainland by some people in Hong Kong. These people interpret this as Hong Kong's becoming "mainlandized" and as signifying the end of "Two Systems". One thing should be made clear. It should never be forgotten that under "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong has kept its distinct legal, political and social systems, and these cannot be integrated with those of the mainland. When integration is spoken of, this refers principally to the economic cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland, with the mainland supporting Hong Kong in its economic development.

Over the past 15 years since its return to the motherland, Hong Kong has been burdened by political conflicts and misunderstandings by some who believe the central government's generosity and support means the "takeover of Hong Kong by Communism" or "the end of two systems". Such rejection of the intentions and policies of the HKSAR government can only serve to drag the city down, at a time when mainland cities are prospering as a result of the nation's steady and robust economic development.

The author is a NPC deputy and a HK Legislative Council member.

(HK Edition 12/01/2012 page3)