Originally proposed as a solution to the Taiwan question, the “one country, two systems” framework has opened a splendid chapter in Hong Kong, as that in Macao, with 25 years of success. Over the past 25 years, the framework has been an ingenious, pioneering, and viable option for the city to achieve sustainable prosperity. This model also indicates a meaningful philosophy to the world — the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has demonstrated the vitality of incorporating different systems peacefully and harmoniously.
Under the premise of “one China”, the Hong Kong SAR maintains its capitalist system unchanged and has been given a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law. The “one country, two systems” policy assures Hong Kong a free economic market, with a fiscal and taxation system distinct from that of the Chinese mainland. Local people in the city continued their lifestyle that they are familiar with. Over the years, there have been some hostile rumors that are apprehensive and skeptical about the democracy in Hong Kong under the Basic Law. Yet what has happened in the city has alleviated such concerns. The city now enjoys more democracy than ever. It has been a consensus that the citizens in the SAR have an improved human rights status. The freedom of speech, assembly, and religion have been guaranteed by the Basic Law, and, in many aspects, are better than in some of the democratic Western countries.
Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China; both economic and cultural links are strong; and the special administrative region is intertwined with the rest of the country like siblings of the same family. The city has progressed satisfactorily with the motherland when playing a pivotal role as the nexus to the world. For example, the launch of the Individual Visit Scheme in 2003 triggered mainland residents’ visiting, sightseeing, and shopping in Hong Kong. The “brothers and sisters” from the north made a substantial contribution to the development of tourism, brought great benefits to local businesses, and created massive job opportunities before the pandemic. One of the most important lessons Hong Kong has learned during the painful lockdowns while fighting the pandemic is that the bonds with the motherland are too valuable to be sacrificed.
Taiwan compatriots who recognize the mainland as their motherland have no difficulty seeing the wisdom of this formula, which is the best solution to the Taiwan question
Hong Kong students are provided with preferable chances to be enrolled in mainland universities and they are also granted priority in participating in various exchange activities in many cities on the mainland. Universities in the special administrative region are supported by the central authorities to set up new campuses in either Guangzhou or Shenzhen for better cooperation in academic research. Efforts have also been made in infrastructure construction like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the establishment of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, bringing about tremendous support in innovation and entrepreneurship for young people. Facilities and measures have been provided for the talents in Hong Kong to work in the north, and start a business or a career in the Greater Bay Area or other places on the mainland. All these measures demonstrate that it is Beijing that cares about the people in the HKSAR the most. Beijing has demonstrated political wisdom in implementing the “one country, two systems” policy, boosted the confidence in the city, and improved the rapport between Hong Kong and the sister cities, especially in the Greater Bay Area.
The successful implementation of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong is referential to Taiwan if the people there are well-informed of the true meanings and real benefits of the “one country, two systems” framework. They can tap the fruitful development of the motherland without sacrificing the lifestyle they are used to. For Taiwan’s authorities, if they seek a long-term solution to the cross-Straits dispute, “one country, two systems” should be their best option. Therefore, instead of taking an antagonistic attitude toward the mainland and counting on the backing of external forces, Taiwan’s authorities should appreciate the good intention of the central authorities; they should keep in mind that Beijing has the governance capacity to ensure that the island has a bright future, as has been achieved in Hong Kong.
Throughout the years after reunification, Hong Kong has gone through challenges, and the city now stands tall against all odds. No matter what, the central authorities would never put Hong Kong in a vulnerable position. In the fight against the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98 and the global financial tsunami in 2008-09, the central authorities introduced a slew of policies and measures to help Hong Kong tide over the challenges and protect Hong Kong residents’ livelihoods. When Hong Kong was reeling from the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the central authorities offered unsparing support, including providing free medical supplies, building makeshift hospitals, and sending doctors and nurses to ease the severe conditions. Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity could be strengthened only by the solid backup of the central authorities, especially at trying times, when hostile foreign forces were trying to throw Hong Kong into chaos.
Hong Kong maintains its status as an international financial hub with competitiveness, openness, and inclusiveness under “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong’s example has proved to the world that this framework has achieved remarkable accomplishments and is well worth adhering to in the future. Many young people in Hong Kong have seen their confidence grow in the “one country, two systems” framework after 25 years of practice. Taiwan compatriots who recognize the mainland as their motherland have no difficulty seeing the wisdom of this formula, which is the best solution to the Taiwan question.
The author is vice-chairman of the Hong Kong CPPCC Youth Association.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily