Tung: Cynics have been proved wrong

Updated: 2007-06-25 07:52

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang (R) and former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa talk after the seminar marking the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Hong Kong Basic Law at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 6, 2007. [Reuters]
HONG KONG: Former chief executive (CE) of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Tung Chee Hwa says he is proud of the SAR's achievements of the past 10 years, and he is confident about its future.

"In 1997 when Hong Kong returned to the motherland, some people in Hong Kong doubted whether the 'one country, two systems' principle could be implemented successfully and whether Hong Kong could maintain its prosperity and stability," Tung said. "But now the doubts are gone as the facts tell the truth."

Tung won the election for the first chief executive of the SAR by a wide margin in December 1996. He was re-elected the CE for the second-term in February 2002. But he resigned because of health reasons in March 2005, and was elected vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) the same year.

Tung said that in the past decade, Hong Kong has experienced a lot of difficulties, including the Asian financial crisis and the SARS epidemic. But they proved that Hong Kong people are capable of governing Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, shortly after Tung took over as the CE. "To stabilize the financial market, the SAR government decided to intervene, which proved a successful and vital measure," he said.

Then the SARS epidemic worsened the situation. Tung said he couldn't forget the days of the SARS epidemic and the support Hong Kong got from the central government.

"I still remember the time when President Hu Jintao met me in Guangdong in April 2003, asking me about the situation in Hong Kong, especially the SARS epidemic," Tung said. Hu always "bears Hong Kong residents in mind" despite being busy all the time.

Tung said the central government has taken several measures to help Hong Kong pull out of crises. The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the mainland and the SAR, giving the green light to mainland residents to visit Hong Kong individually and allowing Hong Kong banks to conduct renminbi business are some of those measures.

The joint efforts of the central government and the HKSAR government have paid off, Tung said, because Hong Kong's economy has enjoyed rapid growth for 15 consecutive quarters since 2003.

Hong Kong residents today understand the facts better, they know Hong Kong and the mainland are bound together, and their sense of recognition toward the motherland has intensified, he said. "It's a good and very important change."

Even after resigning as Hong Kong CE and being appointed vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, Tung has always paid especial attention to the SAR. He has spared no efforts to introduce Hong Kong to the world and to promote exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and the SAR.

"Hong Kong has a lot of advantages, including free flow of information, a fair competitive environment, diversified culture and a transparent, highly efficient local government," Tung said. Putting all these advantages to full play, "Hong Kong will take a big step forward in future competition".

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