The political report delivered by General Secretary Hu Jintao to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) indicates that the new generation of leadership has further developed the principle of "one country, two systems".
To realize and maintain national reunification is the common aspiration of all sons and daughters of the Chinese nation. The CPC has always held it an important goal. As Hong Kong and Macao have returned to the motherland, a major task the Party faces in running the country in the new circumstances is to ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao, Hu said in his report. This reveals the importance attached to Hong Kong and Macao affairs by the central leadership.
To realize the country's modernization and complete national reunification are the two historical tasks of the CPC and the Chinese people. The principle of "one country, two systems" has combined the two in a thorough consideration. It lowers the standard of reunification to the minimum level without seeking all-round uniformity but only in a few aspects such as unification in political sovereignty, diplomacy and national defense. It also decreases the cost and price of national reunification to the minimum level of nearly zero. All parties will receive no harm but gain the maximum benefits from reunification.
The new principle of "one country, two systems" is an important result of our theoretical and institutional innovation. It is not only a way to realize national reunification but also an opponent of China's overall modernization drive and the great course of reform and opening up. Hu's exposition well represents such a strategic conception.
Since Hong Kong and Macao returned to the motherland, the principle of "one country, two systems" has turned from theory to practice. The basic policies of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong and Macao people administering Macao with a high degree of autonomy, have been well implemented. Their existing capitalist system and living styles, laws and regulations remain untouched. The governments of the special administrative regions exercise their power of administration, legislation and jurisdiction independently in accordance with the basic laws. The residents of Hong Kong and Macao have enjoyed unprecedented democracy and freedom as well as social security. The implementation of the principle has also guaranteed economic prosperity and stable development of the regions. Cooperation and communication in various fields between the two regions and the mainland was further enhanced as the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was implemented.
According to the principle of "one country, two systems" and the basic laws of the two special administrative regions, the central government has fulfilled its sacred duties granted by the Constitution and laws and done a large amount of work about the regions' diplomacy and national defense. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has explained the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region three times with the view of keeping the long-term and basic interests of Hong Kong, its well-protected prosperity and stability, and promotion of democracy in the region. The central government not only has the duty to safeguard national sovereignty and security but also has the duty to maintain the prosperity and stability of the special administrative regions.
Practices have proved that the principle of "one country, two system" can work well and we have made world-renowned achievements in this great cause. There is no reason to doubt this basic policy. And we should add new connotations to it according to the development of the times.
For Hong Kong and Macao, "one country" brings not only responsibilities and obligations, but also glory and pride, more rights and freedoms, as well as new opportunities. For them, "one country" is not a burden but an asset, an advantage and a growth engine. As Hu has pointed out, "the great motherland will always provide them with strong backing for their prosperity and stability."
Hong Kong and Macao should keep pace with the country's development and merge into the great cause of modernization construction.
In the past three decades, investments from Hong Kong to the mainland have contributed significantly to the country's reform and opening up. The effective management, complete legal system and successful market economy of Hong Kong have also produced a great impact. We should make the best use of the "two systems" and benefit both the special administrative regions and the whole country.
In a word, returned Hong Kong and Macao share a common destiny with the motherland. We should exploit the principle of "one country, two systems" innovatively and make "one country" and "two systems" an organic entity to realize mutual benefits and multi-wining results.
General Secretary Hu said in his report that "our compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao, without doubt, have the wisdom and ability to successfully administer and develop their regions". This has shown the Party and the country's high expectations of Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong and Macao people administering Macao.
The different social systems and ideological disparities should not be an excuse to affect national reunification, nor to split the country. A unified China can embrace two different social systems and ideologies.
The construction of "one country, two systems" is united with the principle of building a harmonious society. Stressing the construction of harmonious relations between the two systems, between the central government and the special administrative regions as well as within the special administrative regions, Hu has made his exposition about the principle of "one country, two systems" from a new perspective of building a harmonious society.
The author is vice-dean of the School of Law, Tsinghua University and a member of the Committee for the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
(China Daily 11/12/2007 page4)