A helping, hands-off strategy works best for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its return to the embrace of China this year. The past 15 years is proof that the principle of 'one country, two systems' is a success story. The central government has unswervingly implemented the principles of 'one country, two systems', 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy. It has acted in strict compliance with the Basic Law and has not interfered in the affairs that the special administrative region administers on its own. The previous capitalist system and way of life remain unchanged. As late leader Deng Xiaoping used to say, it is still a place where 'the horse will race and the dance will be danced'.

The central government has, through various measures including signing the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, issuing individual travel passes to mainland travellers and launching yuan business in Hong Kong, helped the city to emerge from two financial crises and realise recovery and growth. The total number of mainland tourists to Hong Kong was almost 30 million last year. Last March, the 12th five-year plan was formulated by the central government, and for the first time, a whole chapter was assigned for Hong Kong, injecting new vitality into its development. Last year, Hong Kong and the United States were placed as the world's most competitive economies.

With support from the central government, Hong Kong's exchanges with the rest of the world have been expanded and it has played an important role in a great number of international and regional organisations and conferences. Hong Kong continues to be a free port and retains its status as an international financial, trade and shipment centre. It is still considered the most open and freest economy in the world and one of the most dynamic and business-friendly regions.

The central government supports gradual development of a democratic system in Hong Kong suited to its realities in accordance with the Basic Law. At the end of 2007, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted the decision on Hong Kong's constitutional development, clarifying the timetable for universal suffrage: 2017 for the chief executive election and 2020 at the earliest for the Legislative Council election. Last year, the 2012 constitutional reform package was adopted by Legco and approved and put on record by the Standing Committee. These represent a full manifestation of Hong Kong's democratic development.

A prosperous and stable Hong Kong serves China's interests. It also serves the interests of investors from all countries, including the US. From this perspective, all stakeholders should keep Hong Kong, a goose that lays golden eggs, as healthy as possible.

It needs to be noted that affairs in Hong Kong are China's internal affairs. A Hong Kong that is moving ahead along a healthy and steady track according to the principles of 'one country, two systems' deserves respect from all foreign governments, organisations and individuals.

The central government supports foreign consular missions in playing a positive role in Hong Kong's external relations. At the same time, they should strictly abide by international laws and universally recognised codes of conduct, including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and bilateral consular agreements, and not interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs.

Tang Rui is the spokesperson of the Commissioner's Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong