China Economy

Hong Kong has role to play in China's new era

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 5:01pm


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Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's column ("HK's places in a family of 1.3b", December 9) seems to have missed the essential motive which underpins the concept of "one country, two systems".

China began to negotiate with Britain on Hong Kong's reversion to China shortly after it emerged from the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping decided to keep Hong Kong's system intact not as an act of indulgence to five million Hongkongers who would have preferred not to live in a socialist system. He knew that China must eschew its failed system and the only way to salvage the country from further ruination was to open up and reform.

Hong Kong, which had been capitalism's poster child, presented a credible, albeit imperfect, free-market template for China and for almost two decades our city served the mainland as a gateway for increasing exports, attracting foreign investments and raising capital.

The preservation of city's separate system was to benefit the nation.

Almost 30 years have passed since the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the reality on the ground has changed dramatically.

Deng's economic experiment has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest imagination and China has become the second-largest economy in the world.

While Hong Kong remains a valuable economic asset to the country, the tail can no longer wag the dog and Hong Kong's role in the new Greater China economic matrix certainly requires a new definition.

There is, however, a different silver lining in Hong Kong's "separate system" as China is moving into its next phase of reform.

There has been ample evidence that the newly minted leadership in Beijing is prepared to embrace the audacious imperatives of governance and political reforms in order to respond to the aspirations of the Chinese people for cleaner government, greater transparency and improvements to the system of rule of law.

These are precisely the areas in which Hong Kong has excelled and which "may both benefit itself and serve the nation" as Mrs Ip put it so eloquently.

Any attempt to compromise Hong Kong's "separateness", real or imagined, in this watershed moment may not be consistent with the priorities of the central government.

Deng Xiaoping saw Hong Kong as a development precursor to China when he came up with the principle of "one country, two systems", but not vice versa.

Rupert Li, Mid-Levels