Zhang Dejiang’s visit to Hong Kong a reminder of what really matters
Holden Chow says the state leader’s trip marked a fresh start in ties with pan-democrats, while also affirming the importance of ‘one country, two systems’
National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang (張德江) said he was prepared to “see, listen and speak” during his visit to Hong Kong. That seemed true with his apparent olive branch to the pan-democrats, inviting some to a cocktail reception followed by a banquet. Clearly, he was prepared to listen to people holding differing views.
Pan-democrats might have complained about the lack of time to express their demands during the reception (they chose not to attend the banquet), but this remarkable meeting nevertheless marked a good start for future communication between Beijing and the pan-democrats.
This time, it seemed, they had no intention of embarrassing a state leader. On many occasions in the past, pan-democrat legislators either turned down invitations or chose to behave badly at an event by, for example, distributing leaflets with the intention to cause embarrassment.
This time was different; even the pan-democrat representatives seemed quite satisfied with the meeting. If there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel to restore the relationship between the two sides, we can hope to see dialogue and meetings become a regular occurrence in the years to come.
Another very crucial message conveyed by Zhang during his visit was that the central government is determined to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle for Hong Kong. Having reiterated its advantages in his address, Hong Kong people should be assured that this is the only way for the city to continue thriving in the decades to come. The central government is adamant that “one country, two systems” is in the best interests of Hong Kong and the mainland.
For more than 150 years, Hong Kong has been widely perceived by foreign businesses as a gateway to China. Due to our rule of law, our common law system effectively protects the assets and investments of foreign businesses, and we have gained their trust. By setting up headquarters and investing in Hong Kong, they have found a way to access and trade with China, while their properties and rights are safeguarded.
Imagine if Hong Kong were to separate from the mainland, as advocated by some extremists who seek independence; foreign investors would withdraw their investments as there would be no point in putting their money here any longer, given that their ultimate target – the enormous mainland business market – was no longer connected to Hong Kong. In other words, when our role as a gateway to China vanishes, our prosperity is unlikely to survive. If “one country, two systems” is a win-win, why seek to abandon it?
Holden Chow is vice-chairman of the DAB