HK and mainland are a winning team

Updated: 2014-09-30 07:07

By Yan Ming(HK Edition)

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President Xi Jinping met a delegation of Hong Kong business leaders in Beijing last Monday. During their talks Xi noted that continuing implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy in Hong Kong was conducive to the nation's interests and to Hong Kong's as well as those of overseas investors.

Xi's comments brought an important message to Hong Kong and overseas investors: The "One Country, Two Systems" policy ensures Hong Kong's stability and prosperity by allowing the special administrative region (SAR) to profit from its growing exchanges with the mainland, without losing its uniqueness and role as an international financial center.

After more than 30 years of reform, China has become the world's second-largest economy. It is still growing at a pace faster than other economies. Hong Kong has been a major contributor to the nation's rise while also greatly benefiting from it. Today, the city's economy is so closely connected to the mainland that it is impossible for Hong Kong to grow without continued integration with the mainland. This is what attracts overseas investors to Hong Kong. The SAR is the perfect "springboard" for foreign investors seeking to profit from the mainland's industries and expanding consumer market.

The central government spared no effort in ensuring Hong Kong continued to thrive as a vibrant economy after the handover - with impressive results. Following the handover Hong Kong was able to overcome major challenges - most notably the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, the recession caused by the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the global financial crisis triggered by the US subprime collapse in 2008. Hong Kong emerged stronger than ever from these crises because of Beijing's support.

After its manufacturing industries moved their operations to the mainland in the 1980s, Hong Kong's economy became more reliant on service industries - particularly finance, retailing, logistics and tourism. This transformation resulted from the mainland's economic reforms. It is also a logical response to a major economic shift - from the West to the East - in recent decades. China (including Hong Kong) has been at the center of this. Hong Kong will thrive while the mainland does, but the mainland's growth cannot continue at the same pace without Hong Kong.

The "One Country, Two Systems" policy has been beneficial. It has been successful because Hong Kong has generally been able to keep politics out of economic development. However, this does not mean political interference during this time has been benign. Attempts by the opposition in Hong Kong and its overseas supporters to sabotage the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" by political means, never stopped following the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in late 1984.

The disruptive strategy began with the "democratic reforms" launched by last governor Chris Patten in violation of the joint declaration. Patten also allowed political organizations to form which made running Hong Kong more difficult following the handover.

There have been political showdowns between China and some Western powers over the continuation of "One Country, Two Systems" in Hong Kong. Beijing has resisted attempts by foreign countries to hinder the country's peaceful rise by destabilizing Hong Kong. The central government has resolutely reacted to these provocations.

In June, the Information Office of the State Council released its first-ever white paper on the practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy in the HKSAR. This was to set the record straight on principal issues regarding the constitutional status and autonomous powers of the city as an SAR of the People's Republic of China. This was followed by the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on Aug 31, which laid down the framework for the election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage in 2017 and the 2016 Legislative Council (LegCo) elections.

These two crucial measures were seen as "preemptive strikes" against opposition attempts to hijack Hong Kong's democratic progress. In response, the opposition camp has now launched the illegal "Occupy Central" campaign.

Apparently, some western powers and their supporters in Hong Kong believe the best way to upset mainland's rise is to cause disruption in Hong Kong. They are going all out to mislead the public on matters concerning universal suffrage. They are spreading all sorts of misinformation and street protests to stop traffic in Central. This is to cause chaos and force the central government to compromise or even resort to excessive force. Either way this is an attempt to make Beijing look bad in the eyes of the international community.

But these tactics will never work. Hong Kong and the mainland have achieved too much over the years to let any internal disruption or outside interference get in the way of future triumphs.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 09/30/2014 page5)