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Xi offers HK workable solutions to its problems

By David Wong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-08 07:05

The highlight of the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China was the three-day visit by President Xi Jinping. The president visited the construction site of the West Kowloon Cultural District and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, officiated at the military parade at the garrison and inaugurated the new chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region.

The most noteworthy part of Xi's visit was his speech at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 1, after the SAR administration led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was sworn into office. Many key points of the speech were long-standing policies. And I believe the central part of Xi's speech was about implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle, specifically his four main points.

First, he referred to the "one country" principle as the roots of a tree which must run deep and strong to hold the tree stable. This reference is clearly in response to the repeated provocation by the opposition to challenge the central government's authority over the SAR. Opposition parties have long been trying to use "two systems" to resist "one country". In recent years, the opposition camp has stepped up its rhetoric and used terms like localism, self-determination and even "independence". The Basic Law has already guaranteed Hong Kong a very high degree of autonomy and the repeated use of these inflammatory slogans can only be interpreted as an attack on China's sovereignty. Therefore, Xi had to be very straightforward with his points when he drew a "red line" for those impermissible behaviors.

Second, Hong Kong residents are very proud of their tradition of upholding the rule of law. Yet there is a fair amount of resistance to the promotion of the Basic Law. Efforts to promote the Basic Law have always been defamed as brainwashing by many, especially those in the education sector.

The key messages of the Basic Law, such as the "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China", is something that everyone can and should understand.

Third, almost everything in the SAR has been politicized. Many people are obsessed with partisan attacks and society seems to be consumed by petty differences. This is leading us nowhere. There are golden opportunities, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area project, for Hong Kong to seize; there are also many problems waiting to be solved, such as stagnant economic growth, shortage of housing, poverty and the aging population.

Years of political bickering have torn our city apart. We have wasted too much time and attention on trivial disagreements that benefit no one but politicians in the opposition. Finally, the central government is willing to lead the way by seeking broad common ground while setting aside major differences. It is ready to communicate with anyone who genuinely supports the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law, regardless of their political views or position.

The opposition parties should change their mentality and attitude and try to work constructively to solve our common problems. And the new administration should display more goodwill by inviting the opposition for dialogue. Actually, it has started doing that.

Xi's speech is a timely review of the implementation of the "one country two systems" principle. Xi has a thorough understanding of the current situation of Hong Kong and has offered us suitable and workable solutions to our problems. I sincerely hope this would be the beginning of the end of the polarization of our community.

Xi reminded us that we ought to focus on development as the top priority since it holds the golden key to resolving various issues in Hong Kong.

The author is an executive member of the New People's Party in Hong Kong and a former civil servant.

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