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New electoral system ensures patriots administering HK

By Tian Feilong | Updated: 2022-05-09 08:13
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Editor's note: The election for the sixth-term chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was held on Sunday under the reformed electoral system. Three experts share their views with China Daily on the prospects of Hong Kong taking forward its development after the election.

The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has gradually subsided, and life is slowly returning to normal. However, due to a lack of customs clearance between Hong Kong and the mainland, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the "Northern Metropolis" development plans could face delays and challenges.

So Hong Kong should make up for lost time by promoting social reconciliation within the city, building a consensus on development, and returning to the rational track of democracy and rule of law. And it could start the process with the election of the sixth-term chief executive-elect on Sunday.

A central aim of "one country, two systems" is to promote Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, with stability being a prerequisite for prosperity.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong has fallen into the trap of "excessive politicization". Since the 2014 illegal "Occupy Central" movement and the 2019"anti-extradition" riots, Hong Kong society has been divided, social trust is low, and relations between the government and the people have been tense, and rule of law and social order have eroded, with transformative growth encountering severe challenges.

These factors that have led to instability in Hong Kong can be partly attributed to economic inequality, while the more underlying cause is that "patriots administering Hong Kong" hasn't taken root in the city. Hong Kong authorities also need to make up for the deficit in loyalty to "one country, two systems" by improving their ability to govern the city.

In fact, the so-called "anti-extradition bill" turmoil and the pandemic outbreaks are closely related to the weak foundation of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and ineffective governance.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee introduced the National Security Law for Hong Kong in 2020 and later reformed the electoral system to improve the institutional system of "one country, two systems".

The system reconstruction takes "patriots administering Hong Kong" as the fundamental principle. While the National Security Law is aimed at preventing or dealing with social disorder, and ensuring Hong Kong residents' safety, the core principles of the new electoral system are balanced participation and orderly democracy, which is in stark contrast to the old electoral system, under which some local radicals and foreign forces tried to turn the city into a hotbed of subversion.

An "unsafe" Hong Kong endangers the city, and also comprises the security of the entire country, especially the safety of the socialist system. The riots in 2019 and the radicals' intervention in Hong Kong's District Council election and 2020 power grab plan exposed the loopholes in the old electoral system.

On the other hand, the reformed electoral system will thwart attempts to trigger a "color revolution" in Hong Kong, and better safeguard national security. Indeed, the reformed electoral system is democratic, and in line with "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong's real situation.

In fact, the white paper, titled "Hong Kong Democratic Progress under the Framework of One Country, Two Systems" and issued by the State Council Information Office in December 2021, gives an authoritative explanation of the history, jurisprudence and institution of the "one country, two systems" principle.

The new electoral system will help Hong Kong residents elect competent members to the Legislative Council and a capable and qualified chief executive who meet the requirements of "patriots administering Hong Kong".

First, the new electoral system will allow only patriots to contest the elections, and prevent anti-China forces from disrupting Hong Kong's governance or triggering a "color revolution".

Second, the focus of elections in Hong Kong has shifted from the political system to concrete policies. Candidates no longer have to take extreme positions, and instead contest elections based on their abilities and policies to govern Hong Kong.

And third, the new electoral system has drastically squeezed room for external forces interfering in Hong Kong, and will thus help the city to achieve a high degree of autonomy under "one country, two systems", and facilitate the SAR's integration with the motherland's development.

Hong Kong faces big challenges, but with the institutional guarantee of "one country, two systems", the full support of the central authorities, the improved electoral system and its economic advantages, the city is capable of getting out of the predicament and maintaining its position as a leading global financial center and logistics hub.

Hong Kong's strategic role, as part of "one country, two systems", in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is clear. It is an engine of the Greater Bay Area and one of the eight prime economic centers in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Apart from its traditional advantages as a leading international financial, and trade and shipping hub, Hong Kong is also slowly becoming an innovation and high-tech hub, Sino-foreign cultural and artistic exchange center, and a regional intellectual property trading center thanks to the continuous economic growth of the mainland.

The development of Hong Kong in the new era requires comprehensive and forward-looking strategic guidance, as well as policy support. That is exactly where the new electoral system and the new chief executive come into play.

Hong Kong also needs more security guarantees to cope with the fierce Sino-US disputes and differences, and therefore should further integrate with the motherland's development plan and try to benefit more from the Belt and Road Initiative.

Hong Kong needs to ramp up efforts to maintain its core advantages and global influence. And the new Hong Kong chief executive and governing team should fully understand their responsibilities, and realize that ruling Hong Kong does not simply mean doing things by the book, but taking initiatives based on the actual situation and national strategy.

In short, Hong Kong can further benefit by integrating with the motherland, and facilitating deeper cooperation between the mainland and the rest of the world, and improving governance.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

The author is an associate professor at the School of Law, Beihang University.

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