On 30 June 2017, the Daily Telegraph published a signed article by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming on its website entitled “Hong Kong – the pearl of the Orient – shines bright as before”. The full text is as follows:
Hong Kong – the Pearl of the Orient – Shines Bright as Before
July 1 marks the twentieth anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.
For twenty years, the Chinese Government has stayed committed to the principles of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy.
Thanks to this commitment, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has enjoyed continued prosperity and stability and achieved widely recognized success in delivering vibrant growth, democratic governance and a free society.
Twenty years on, Hong Kong has doubled its GDP, sustained an annual growth rate that is higher than most developed economies and emerged unscathed from the Asian financial upheavals in 1997, the SARS epidemic of 2003 and the international financial crisis of 2008.
This metropolitan city has further consolidated its position as a global financial, trading and shipping hub. Today, it is the world’s fourth largest financial centre, the eighth largest trading entity, the fourth largest shipping register, the fifth largest container port and home to the world’s busiest air cargo terminal. Seventy of the world’s top 100 banks have set up offices here. For the past 20 years, Hong Kong has been one of the freest and most competitive economies in the world.
The citizens of Hong Kong enjoy unprecedented democratic rights, including in elections for the head of the local government - the last of which was held in March. The Legislative Council has had its seats increased from 60 to 70 and the election committee has been enlarged from 400 to 1200. We have higher voter registration and turnout.
Rule of law in Hong Kong has been strengthened, evidenced by its significant rise in world safety rankings from 60th place in 1996 to 11th place in the 2015.
Twenty years on, Hong Kong, as one of the world’s top rule-based societies, also leads in the Human Freedom Index and has kept a good record in protecting basic rights and freedom.
From political stability, governance efficiency, regulatory quality and the rule of law, to control of corruption, right to expression and systems of accountability, all indicators suggest that Hong Kong is doing far better than in pre-return times.
Twenty years after Hong Kong’s return, misunderstandings of “one country, two systems” and skepticism of Hong Kong’s future still exist among some people in Hong Kong and internationally. Like Gollum’s infatuation with the Ring in Lord of the Rings, some of them are entrenched in their colonialist illusion. Some extreme elements even clamoured for so-called “Hong Kong independence”. This will lead to nowhere but cost Hong Kong its prosperity and stability.
History does not lie. The past two decades prove that the “one country, two systems” policy has ensured common development of Hong Kong and China’s mainland.
It is the fundamental guarantee and best arrangement for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.
The problems and challenges Hong Kong faces at present are “growing pains” which will be healed by opportunities on the way ahead, like the Belt and Road Initiative and the grand plan of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area. These opportunities will sustain Hong Kong’s future growth and external cooperation.
Hong Kong is now an integral part of China. Separatist attempts, including for so-called “Hong Kong independence”, will not be tolerated, and foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs will be opposed.
Whatever the circumstances, China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability in the long run must be maintained. And as a fundamental policy, “one country, two systems” will be strictly followed.
Hong Kong since its return has increasingly become a bridge between China and Britain.
Ensuring Hong Kong’s success within the framework of “one country, two systems” is a shared commitment and serves the common interests of both countries. I hope the British people will realise the harm of so-called “Hong Kong independence” and share our commitment to maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and to advance exchange and cooperation between China and Britain, and between Hong Kong and Britain.
For Hong Kong, 20 years of return is a landmark in its history and a new starting point towards a brighter future.
I have no doubt this “Pearl of the Orient” will continue to shine ever more brightly in the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations.