Sustainability of ‘one country, two systems’ policy is assured

The work report delivered by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 20th National Congress of the CPC emphasized that “one country, two systems” (OCTS) remains a long-term policy. Special acknowledgment must be made of President Xi’s full support for the future development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at a critical time when geopolitics is in flux. He highlighted that Hong Kong has the country’s support in developing its economy, improving people’s livelihoods, as well as resolving its deep-seated socioeconomic problems. His support for Hong Kong’s integration into overall national development will open a new chapter in the city’s relations with the motherland. As Liu Guangyuan, commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, correctly pointed out, the work report is an “action guide” for Hong Kong.

Commenting on the 20th Party Congress, the China-bashers in the West, including politicians and their media outlets, argued that China would lose its allure to the foreign business community partly because of its “increasingly authoritarian rule” and partly because of its “self-imposed isolation policy”. The truth is, the Party Congress has made sure there will be policy continuity, a prerequisite for economic development. And there is no evidence to suggest that China will abandon its reform and opening-up policy.

According to Fitch Solutions, China scores 68.2 out of 100 in its Long-term Political Risk Index, which is above Asia’s regional average score of 63.1 (Fitch Solutions, “China’s Country Risk Report”, Q3 2022, p 40). Policy continuity is also an important theme in China’s foreign policy. Nor will China suddenly change its environmental policies by breaking its promise to cut carbon emissions. Turning to the UK, Liz Truss’ catastrophically brief tenure as prime minister and the falling British pound remind us that political stability is the key to economic development.

It should be emphasized, in making a solemn declaration to the world, that the Communist Party of China’s constitution has been amended to reaffirm Beijing’s commitment to the OCTS policy. Another important amendment includes the incorporation of the “Two Establishes” and “Two Safeguards” into the Party constitution. With President Xi Jinping at the core of the central leadership, there should be no doubt about the sustainability of OCTS. President Xi has persistently championed OCTS.

From a broader perspective, Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University’s law school, argued that the amendments could be seen as a sign of the State leader’s strengthened confidence in the OCTS model as the solution to the Taiwan question, saying that the amendments link the long-term implementation of OCTS in Hong Kong and Macao to Taiwan’s future.

As Taiwan scholar Chu Yun-han has pointed out, Beijing and Taiwan are coming from very different starting points, so they made different choices under different practical conditions (Maya X Guo, Trust in the System (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2015), p 90). Misled by the toxic propaganda of the pro-independence forces in Taiwan, some young people in the island want to cut their cultural links with their motherland. Fully aware of the above differences and “cultural headwinds”, the work report makes it clear that the policies of peaceful reunification and OCTS are the best way to realize the reunification of Taiwan. If OCTS remains a successful formula in Hong Kong, it will persuade more Taiwan people to see the principle as an opportunity rather than a threat. Therefore, it makes no sense to suggest that the promise of long-term commitment to the implementation of OCTS in Hong Kong is merely a tactical move.

President Xi also reiterated in the work report the central government’s support for the SAR governments of Hong Kong and Macao to exercise law-based administration, enhance overall governance, and improve their judicial and legal systems. In his maiden Policy Address, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu highlighted some ways to enhance the overall governance and administrative capability of the HKSAR government; for example, by enhancing the disciplinary mechanisms of the civil service.

In the past few years, several legal-reform proposals have been introduced by legal scholars and practitioners. In previous articles in this column, we have tried to catapult the proposal to form a sentencing council to the center of judicial attention. We also suggested introducing laws to fight against fake news and protect against the insulting of law-enforcement officers. In order to improve our legal systems under the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, all stakeholders can play a role in submitting constructive reform proposals to the government.

In response to President Xi’s call for the implementation of laws and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard national security, we earnestly urge the government to speed up the legislation according to Article 23 of the Basic Law. Hostile external forces are likely to continue to use the Hong Kong SAR as a launching pad to harm China in the next few years and beyond. The 2019 “black-clad riots” exposed the significant role of social media in the radicalization of Hong Kong youth (Gary Tang,, “Radicalization, Exhaustion and Networked Movement in Abeyance: Hong Kong University Students’ Localist Identification after the Umbrella Movement”, in China Perspectives, No. 2022/2, p 59). Since social media is a hotbed of fake news and radical thoughts, we reiterate that the government should speed up the introduction of laws to fight online fake news.

President Xi also reiterated the central government’s aspiration for more people in Hong Kong and Macao to love both the country and their cities. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu deserves great praise for emphasizing the importance of national education in his Policy Address. To conclude, we should be immensely grateful for the commitment made by the central government to support our future development. The central government’s support for Hong Kong’s integration into overall national development is also greeted with applause; integration will allow more Hong Kong people to contribute to the development of the motherland.

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu is a Legislative Council member and a solicitor.

Kacee Ting Wong is a barrister, a part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, and co-founder of the Together We Can and Hong Kong Coalition.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.