Editor's note: Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech on July 1, 2017, at the meeting celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the inaugural ceremony of the fifth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The following is an edited excerpt of Xi's speech:
Changes of Hong Kong
Twenty years ago, Hong Kong returned to the embrace of the motherland. This ended past humiliation and marked a major step forward toward the complete reunification of China.
As a special administrative region directly under the Central Government, Hong Kong has been re-integrated into China's national governance system since the very day of its return. The Central Government exercises jurisdiction over Hong Kong in accordance with China's Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, and corresponding systems and institutions have been set up for the special administrative region. Hong Kong's ties with the mainland have grown increasingly close, breeding better interaction and cooperation.
Since its return to the motherland, Hong Kong has maintained prosperity and stability. Hong Kong has kept its distinct features and strengths. Under the practice of "one country, two systems," Hong Kong has retained its previous capitalist system and way of life, and its laws have remained theirs.
The people of Hong Kong, now masters of their own land, run their local affairs within the purview of autonomy of the HKSAR. They enjoy more extensive democratic rights and freedoms than at any other time in its history. Hong Kong has been consistently rated by many international institutions as one of the freest economies and most competitive regions in the world.
Success of "one country, two systems"
What has happened in Hong Kong fully demonstrates that the concept of "one country, two systems" provides the best solution to the historical question of Hong Kong and the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability after its return.
In the past 20 years, the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong is a success story recognized by all. It is a great initiative pursued by China. It offers a new way of thinking and a new formula to the international community in addressing similar issues. It is another contribution made by the Chinese nation to promoting global peace and development.
The Central Government will unswervingly implement the policy of "one country, two systems,” and make sure that it is fully applied in Hong Kong without distortion.
As a pioneering initiative that has no precedent to follow, the application of "one country, two systems" entails an evolving process with hopeful outcomes.
How to better implement "one country, two systems"
First, it is imperative to have a correct understanding of the relationship between "one country" and "two systems." "One country" is like the roots of a tree. For a tree to grow tall and luxuriant, its roots must run deep and strong. The concept of "one country, two systems" was advanced, first and foremost, to realize and uphold national unity.
Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the Central Government and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR, or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the line. It is impermissible. At the same time, on the basis of "one country," the "two systems" should and have every reason to stay in harmony and reinforce each other.
Second, it is important to always act in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the HKSAR together form the constitutional basis of the HKSAR. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the state. It embodies the common will of people of all ethnic groups in China, and represents the legal origin of the system of special administrative region. The Basic Law is a basic legislation enacted in accordance with the Constitution. It provides for the system and policies that should be practiced in the HKSAR, and provides legal safeguards for the practice of "one country, two systems" in the HKSAR.
Third, there should be a prevailing focus on development, as a top priority. Development, an abiding pursuit, is crucial for Hong Kong's survival, and it holds the golden key to resolving various issues in Hong Kong. The concept of "one country, two systems" was advanced to achieve two goals--peacefully resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and promoting further growth.
On a final note, China believes in regulating and maintaining a harmonious and stable social environment. The concept of "one country, two systems" embodies a very important tenet, which is the seeking of broad common ground while setting aside major differences. Hong Kong is a plural society. So it comes as no surprise that there are different views and even major differences on some specific issues. However, making everything political or deliberately creating differences and provoking confrontation will not resolve the problems. On the contrary, it can only severely hinder Hong Kong's economic and social development.
Central Government's Support
The Central Government will continue to support the chief executive and the HKSAR government in exercising law-based governance. It will continue to support Hong Kong in growing its economy and improving people's lives, and in leveraging its strengths and role in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Renminbi internationalization and other major development plans. The relevant Central Government departments will actively consider adopting concrete measures to not only make it more convenient for the people of Hong Kong to study, work and live on the mainland, but also provide better opportunities to pursue careers on the mainland.