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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:20am
CommentInsight & Opinion

CY walking fine line between integration and HK independence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 9:39am

Hong Kong remains an international city, a free economy and an open society - cornerstones of our way of life under the one country, two systems concept. The city is open for business, and pleasure, to all comers, subject to any jurisdiction's right to determine who can enter and how long they can stay. So many mainlanders have been allowed to come that a proposed expansion of the multiple-entry permit scheme was recently put on hold to meet concerns about the city's ability to absorb more visitors.

That move reflects a venting of simmering negative sentiment towards mainland visitors, who are blamed for a range of social ills from soaring property prices and rents to packed maternity wards. This issue has fallen into the lap of new chief executive Leung Chun-ying. Ironically, as a previous government's emissary to Beijing, he was instrumental in prising open the door to more mainland tourists to help the city's economy recover from the Sars downturn. Now he is trying to keep the welcome mat in the doorway.

In an exclusive interview with the Post, he said that if mainlanders no longer felt welcome the city would suffer a serious blow. It would certainly not be consistent with our best interests. Increasing integration with the Pearl River Delta region is key to Hong Kong's future development. But the rising profile of mainlanders in our daily lives tests the city's renowned spirit of tolerance and independence. How we meet this challenge is important to our future success.

Leung says we should be mindful of how the mainland views Hong Kong in the light of actions at demonstrations such as displaying the British and old colonial flags. In the context of Hong Kong's robust pluralism, some would see this as political mockery that is not to be taken too seriously. But a country ultra sensitive about territorial sovereignty may not see it that way, nor many patriots. A flag, after all, is a symbol of sovereignty and allegiance. If it symbolised anything else in this case it is the legacy of core values that underpin a free economy and a vibrant civil society. This may reflect a more worrying concern - that the line between the two systems is becoming increasingly blurred. If our values are to be upheld, Leung is right to say the government needs to manage the relationship with the mainland and communicate with Hong Kong people to ease their concerns. That will be the underlying challenge of dealing with livelihood issues.


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This article is now closed to comments

It's almost as if resistance is futile and that all Hong Kong people will be assimilated. Mainland China will just add the biological and technological distinctiveness of HK to their own.
Integration should never be set as a government objective because you simply cannot force people to integrate. After all, can you really blame some people when they refuse to identify with a government that's outrageously corrupt and does not respect the rule of law? Some people say Hongkongers don't have the choice because Hong Kong is a sovereign part of the PRC. But according to the Basic Law we do. The Basic Law does not require a permanent resident of Hong Kong to become an integral part of the PRC.
Under the "one-country, two-systems", Hong Kong is an entity that has its own "characteristics" and values that are (and should be) distinct from that of the rest of China. Our government headed by our CE is to act for the interest of Hong Kong and its people while in full compliance of provisions and spirit of the Basic Law. Failure in this context will cause Hong Kong to lose its own identity, becoming indistinquishable from the rest of China; thus losing its appeal as an open, free city. Many visiting compatriots find such atmosphere enticing, a breadth of fresh air. Some off-the-cuff comments by certain low-level cadres should not be viewed as the wish and will of that of the high-level authorities. We welcome all visitors and need to be tolerant to a reasonable extent of rowdy behavior of a "few" as long as the interests of HKers are not impeded upon. Our CE needs to act for the best interest of Hong Kong, not blowing in the wind one day and the next.


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