On August 2, 2019, Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s op-ed about Hong Kong was published by Newsweek. Here is the full text of the article:
One Country, Two Systems Is the Best System for Hong Kong, China and the World – Including America
Recent events in Hong Kong have drawn significant international speculation. Problematically, some commentators have gone so far as to question the efficacy and even legitimacy of “One Country, Two Systems”. In fact, since China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, “One Country, Two Systems” has proven remarkably successful in transforming Hong Kong into an incredible place to live, study and do business. The questioning of this policy is deeply concerning, and makes clear that a broader public understanding of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is necessary.
Over the past 22 years, Hong Kong has given support to the mainland’s development, while the mainland has contributed to Hong Kong’s rise. Hong Kong’s GDP has maintained a steady growth, hitting almost $360 billion in 2018, over twice of that of 1996. The number of visitors soared from 10.4 million in 1997 to more than 65 million in 2018. As a fully established international financial, trade and shipping center, Hong Kong ranks among the top in the world by various economic and social development indicators. Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient, is part of China, and can only shine as part of China.
Being a most vibrant economy, Hong Kong must keep pace with a changing world. As an SAR, the fate of Hong Kong is tied to the whole Chinese nation. The central government always puts Hong Kong’s social stability, economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood high on its agenda, and fully backs the SAR government and its citizens as they strive to meet their challenges head-on. As a case in point, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area are opening significant new development opportunities for Hong Kong.
That said, clarification is still needed on misperceptions about “One Country Two Systems”. Importantly, the “Two Systems” are based on “One Country,” enshrined and protected by China’s constitution. Any talk about the “Two Systems” out of the context of “One Country” would be illegitimate, and to question the necessity of upholding “One Country” with the exercise of “Two Systems” constitutes a challenge to China’s sovereignty. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of China allows no offense.
Meanwhile, the system practiced in Hong Kong, though different from that of the mainland, is something implemented for a certain administrative region of China in a certain historical stage; it is still a Chinese system, not a duplicate of that of America or Europe. Imposing a different, foreign system on Hong Kong is not only a challenge to the principle of “One Country”, but also harmful to the practice of “Two Systems”. Furthermore, what was practiced in Hong Kong under British rule was colonialism, with a governor appointed by London. The UK’s own system of government had never been implemented in Hong Kong.
It is impossible for Hong Kong to be separated from the mainland. The “Two Systems” are meant to work harmoniously, and to generate long-term prosperity and stability. From developing advantageous industries to fending off external financial risks, from upholding social order to providing household necessities, Hong Kong and the mainland are inextricably linked. Hong Kong’s ties with the mainland have developed to such breadth and depth, that to sever them is impossible, and trying to do so would only impede a better future for Hong Kong.
Currently, the biggest peril for “One Country Two Systems” comes from ill-intentioned forces, both inside and outside Hong Kong, who seek to turn the SAR into a bridgehead to attack the mainland’s system and spark chaos across China. For them, the wellbeing of Hong Kong’s seven million people is a disposable pawn in their strategy. The last thing these people want to see is the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Hong Kong compatriots included.
Recent events in Hong Kong have laid bare the ill-will of these forces and the hypocrisy of some Western politicians. Look at the radicals in Hong Kong who broke into and vandalized the Legislative Council, beat and maimed the policemen, and illegally stored dangerous assault weapons. They even stormed the liaison office of the central government and defaced the national emblem. These are not peaceful demonstrations. Nor do these acts of violence have anything to do with the freedoms of speech and assembly.
The intention of these radical factions is to sabotage Hong Kong’s rule of law and threaten the bottom line of “One Country Two Systems”. The central government firmly supports the SAR government and police in taking all necessary measures to bring those perpetrators to justice and uphold social stability of Hong Kong. And, were the U.S. to witness a similar assault to its stability, there would undoubtedly be an attempt to restore order.
Nothing is more beneficial than stability, and nothing is more detrimental than chaos. A chaotic Hong Kong will do no one any good. Hong Kong affairs are solely the internal affairs of China. China’s determination to safeguard sovereignty, security, and development interests, and to implement “One Country Two Systems” for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is unwavering.
A prosperous and stable Hong Kong not only serves China’s interests, but is conducive to the betterment of the international community, including the U.S. Consider the 85,000 U.S. citizens who live and work in Hong Kong, and thousands of American companies flourishing in the SAR. We are glad to see Hong Kong develop stronger business and people-to-people ties with the U.S., and become a prime choice for more American businessmen, tourists and immigrants.