The People’s Republic of China turned 72 this year, when the country achieved its first centennial goal of building up a moderately prosperous society while celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and started working toward the second centennial goal of building up a fully modernized society by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the PRC. Speaking of year one, 2021 also sees the beginning of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), as the nation enters a new stage of development with a new development pattern to boot. All these are happening this year because the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the historic changes in the global situation and power balance unseen in a century.
The United States’ attempts to contain China’s development and the latter’s determination to break such containment take center stage of the historical changes in the world unseen in a century. The Chinese people and their central government have no choice but to overcome whatever forms of obstruction by the US-led Western powers, or the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will remain just a dream.
This reality means the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government must play its part in the nation’s fight against US attempts to sabotage — through persistent meddling in Hong Kong affairs — the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation; and step up efforts to integrate its own development into the overall development strategy of the country. Accomplishing the first one will surely pave the way for achieving the other goal. After all, the two tasks complement each other.
That said, some wrong ideas and counterproductive sentiments exist across Hong Kong’s social spectrum, particularly among the pro-establishment camp, and could undermine Hong Kong’s efforts to accomplish the strategic missions at hand.
With the anti-China forces roundly defeated and the 2021 Election Committee successfully returned, some people have become complacent and assumed that Hong Kong has achieved “governance by patriots”. They have underestimated the anti-China forces’ obsession with containing China’s development by messing up Hong Kong however they can. This includes “going underground” to continue with their maneuvers; some local residents’ ill-advised sympathy and support for the anti-China forces; and the ulterior motives behind the “talent drain” schemes of Western powers led by the US and the United Kingdom to lure Hong Kong residents to their countries, possibly as cash cows and/or future Trojan horses. The HKSAR government needs to help the public see through the smoke and mirrors set up by hostile Western powers and understand that safeguarding national security is an arduous and complex long-term battle.
It should be noted that not all groups or individuals from the patriotic camp fully understand the PRC even though Hong Kong is an inalienable part of it. Some of them may respect the CPC as the governing party of the country but are not openly committed to following its undeniable leadership. It seems that some of them have accepted a weird logic, which recognizes the constitutional reality that the Central People’s Government holds the right to exercise sovereignty over Hong Kong but not the fact that the Central People’s Government is the CPC leadership personified.
Along with this ridiculous logic, some groups and individuals from the patriotic camp also cling to an unfounded sense of pride in assuming that Hong Kong’s capitalist system is superior to the country’s socialism with Chinese characteristics, not realizing they are able to keep enjoying the benefits of capitalism because of the “one country, two systems” principle, which is an offspring of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Their refusal to recognize that the Chinese mainland, under socialism with Chinese characteristics, has done better than Hong Kong in the fight against COVID-19, or that mainland cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou have overtaken Hong Kong by a country mile in terms of economic prowess, can only be interpreted as pathological denial.
The inability to fully understand the country leads to a failure to follow the leadership of the CPC or reckon the advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics, hence the lack of resolve to join the nation in fighting back against foreign sanctions and other attempts to contain China’s development. This is why some businesspeople and professionals refuse to face the reality that the days when Hong Kong profited from doing business with both sides of the Cold War are long gone; and that Hong Kong relies on the Chinese mainland more than ever. It is the responsibility of the HKSAR government to wake those people up now rather than later.
Hong Kong society needs to realize that it is far behind Macao in terms of integrating its own development into the overall development strategy of the country. The distance is shown in the Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Deeper Cooperation Zone Overall Development Plan and the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone Reform and Opening-up Plan, both announced recently. The Hengqin deeper cooperation zone is jointly developed by Guangdong and the Macao SAR, thanks to success in connecting their own systems and mechanisms to cater to regional cooperation; while the Qianhai modern service industry cooperation zone is a pilot project between the Shenzhen municipality and the HKSAR because the latter is still reluctant to commit to integrating its own development into the overall development strategy of the nation.
Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, said recently that one falls behind as soon as you stop moving forward; but in Hong Kong’s case, even moving forward slowly means falling behind because others are moving forward faster. As the Chinese nation celebrates the 72nd anniversary of the nation, Hong Kong residents should worry about the future of their hometown while sharing the joyous moment with compatriots on the mainland and overseas. It is one thing to indulge in nostalgia and another to face the reality that one is falling further behind by the minute as others forge ahead. Hong Kong may have enjoyed a good head start back in the day, but Macao is now ahead of Hong Kong in integrating into the overall development strategy of the country, and the distance will be even greater when the nation celebrates the 73rd anniversary next year if Hong Kong continues to stall. Those who live in the past by choice have no future; and Hong Kong is definitely better than that. All the city has to do is prove it can be better.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.