Dec 19 set a significant milestone in Hong Kong’s democratic development as the city held the first Legislative Council election under the new electoral system, which aims at maximally balancing the interests of various sectors while ensuring the implementation of the “patriots administering Hong Kong” precept.
The principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, which forms the core of Hong Kong’s new electoral system adopted early this year in accordance with the National People’s Congress’ relevant decision, is not a new thing; it is part and parcel of the design of “one country, two systems”.
This design is logical under the context that Hong Kong is part of China, and that Hong Kong compatriots and their compatriots in the motherland share the same future. Xia Baolong, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, described it better in an earlier speech on the LegCo election, saying, “Looking back on the course Hong Kong has gone through, we have a deep feeling that Hong Kong compatriots are always with the people of the motherland in good or bad times; and that Hong Kong people have never separated from their motherland emotionally.”
Patriotism has become all the more important since the reunification, not least because having a governing body composed of patriots is the precondition of “one country, two systems”, a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong and “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”. The 2019 social unrest, a painful lesson, reminds us of the importance of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. The failure to uphold this precept had allowed subversive forces to wreak havoc on Hong Kong’s political and social order, substantially threatening the well-being and future of the city. Fortunately, with the central government’s support, Hong Kong has made the historic choice of returning to the path of “patriots administering Hong Kong” under the new electoral system, which has put Hong Kong back on track, both in its political development and course of history.
Sunday’s election embodied the “patriots administering Hong Kong” precept, facilitating a new political landscape, with candidates coming from a wide range of social sectors and political spectrums affording balanced participation and political inclusiveness.
Such a fresh political outlook is underpinned by two institutional changes. First, the new electoral system has effectively expelled the anti-China forces and political saboteurs from the electoral process. In the past, a large number of subversives managed to sneak into the legislature through elections and messed up the chamber, creating an obnoxious political ecology that had deterred individuals who genuinely love Hong Kong and the country from standing for elections. With the removal of destructive forces, the electoral system is now back on track, with seats freed up for people who aspire to make Hong Kong a better place. Second, LegCo has been expanded from 70 to 90 seats with the addition of the Election Committee Constituency. This new arrangement has engendered a broader representation in the legislature, which will be in a better position to take the interests of the whole society into consideration in the legislative process. This institutional design naturally attracts more people, especially professionals with lofty ideals to play a part.
With a productive LegCo in sight, a promising prospect for a better Hong Kong is on the horizon. The chamber will no longer be gripped by relentless grandstanding stunts and bickering, as was the case previously. Instead, the new legislature will not only help maintain the political stability, but also contribute to Hong Kong’s development. No time will be wasted again on political wrangling and confrontation; legislators from all social strata will join hands to boost socioeconomic development and address the deep-seated social problems.
Hong Kong has embarked on a new journey to good governance and success. We are all witnesses, participants and creators of the new political order of good governance.
The author is senior research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.