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With Order Restored, HK Starts a New Journey of Democracy

White Paper: Hong Kong Democratic Progress Under the Framework of One Country, Two Systems released by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

On December 20, 2021, the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China released a white paper titled Hong Kong Democratic Progress Under the Framework of One Country, Two Systems. This white paper presents a comprehensive review of the origin and development of democracy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and the Central Government’s principled stance on the development of democracy in the region, reiterating that the Chinese government will continue to implement the policy of One Country, Two Systems fully and faithfully. It is a fairly significant document announced by the Chinese government concerning its principles and policies to Hong Kong at a key juncture in Hong Kong’s democratic progress.

Facts provided in this white paper show that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government designed, created, safeguarded, and advanced Hong Kong’s system of democracy. 90 candidates from various sectors, social groups, and backgrounds in the HKSAR were elected members of the seventh-term Legislative Council General Election of the HKSAR as the voting results came out on the same day that the white paper was issued. It is the first Legislative Council election after the implementation of the improved electoral system in the HKSAR under the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. This is another evidence of the orderly progress of democracy in Hong Kong.

No Democracy under British Colonial Rule

Whoever cares about Hong Kong and democracy should know, as stated in the white paper, that there was no democracy in Hong Kong under British colonial rule of more than 150 years. In that period, a governor was appointed to rule on behalf of Britain without the people of Hong Kong ever being consulted. The governor assumed all executive and legislative powers, free of any checks and balances. The British Hong Kong authorities maintained a repressive rule in Hong Kong, practiced racial discrimination against local Chinese, and denied them participation in Hong Kong’s governance. For numerous demands for democracy made by people in Hong Kong, the British government rejected or ignored all of them. It suppressed any democratic elements in Hong Kong under its rule.

Over 150 years and more, the British colonial authorities have been suppressing the democratic progress in Hong Kong, bringing no genuine democracy there. Instead, the British government rushed through the electoral reform in Hong Kong in the very short remaining period of colonial rule, which laid hidden snares for the development of democracy in Hong Kong after its return to China.

Return to China Ushering in a New Era for Democracy

It was the Chinese government that initiated the development of democracy in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong’s reintegration into China’s national governance system after its return on July 1, 1997, the Central Government has remained committed to the policy of One Country, Two Systems, and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, fully supporting the orderly development of democracy in Hong Kong in accordance with the law. To this end, it has taken three significant steps. They are approving to amend the election methods for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council, setting a timetable for universal suffrage, and drawing up a roadmap for electing the chief executive by universal suffrage. Any rational observer can see that since Hong Kong’s return to China, the methods for conducting the elections for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council have become increasingly democratic.

Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the HKSAR can participate in the governance of both Hong Kong and the country as empowered by law. Many Hong Kong people work in leadership positions or serve as advisers in the central and local governments and social organizations, while professionals and outstanding young people in Hong Kong are helped by the Central Government to work in international organizations. Hong Kong people have gained much greater access to political participation and enjoy more democratic rights than ever before. All this shows that democracy in Hong Kong is flourishing. No one is in a position to diminish the sincere and successful efforts of the Central Government in supporting the democratic progress in Hong Kong.

Unrest Caused by Anti-China Forces inside and outside HK

However, in recent years, especially after the turbulence over the amendment bill in 2019, anti-China, destabilizing agitators in Hong Kong, in collusion with external anti-China forces, have openly called for “Hong Kong independence” and other separatist activities. On the pretext of “fighting for democracy”, they attempted to split Hong Kong from China and seize power there. They used the electoral platforms of the HKSAR and the deliberation platforms of the Legislative Council or their position as public servants to blatantly carry out anti-China and destabilizing activities.

They resorted to every possible means to paralyze the functioning of the Legislative Council and obstruct the law-based administration of the HKSAR government, inciting hatred in society and dragging down the economy. They attempted to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council so that they could step further to grab the power through a color revolution to administer Hong Kong. Their defiant acts and activities seriously undermined constitutional order and the rule of law in the HKSAR and challenged the authority of the Constitution and the Basic Law and the bottom line of the principle of One Country, Two Systems. Such acts and activities were also detrimental to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and even China’s national security. The development of democracy has been derailed in the region.

Timely and Decisive Actions Taken to Restore Order

The Chinese government serves as a firm promoter of democratic progress in Hong Kong. To put an end to the turmoil in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has taken a series of major decisions, based on a clear understanding of the situation in the region. These include strengthening the central authorities’ overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, improving the relevant systems and mechanisms to enforce the Constitution and the Basic Law, reinforcing the legal framework and supporting mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, and modifying the region’s electoral system, thereby laying the foundations for Hong Kong patriots to govern Hong Kong. These measures have restored order to Hong Kong, returning the democratic process to a sound footing.

Additionally, the Chinese government serves as a strong guardian of the democratic progress in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is part of China, and the policy of One Country, Two Systems underpins the development of democracy in the region. As specified in the white paper, with more than two decades of experience, the CPC and the Chinese government have gained a deeper and clearer understanding of how to develop democracy in accordance with the policy of One Country, Two Systems and line with the realities in Hong Kong. We will continue to take more solid steps to advance democracy in the right direction with greater confidence. With their political vision, the CPC and the Chinese government are certain of the long-term success of the socialist system on the mainland. They are equally certain of the long-term success of both the capitalist system in Hong Kong and a form of democracy suited to its realities.

Success only comes through hard work. As Hong Kong is now entering a new stage of restored order and will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its return to China next year, we have every reason to believe that with the solid support of the motherland and the strong guarantee of the policy of One Country, Two Systems, democracy will be advanced in Hong Kong with greater success, and this dynamic region will surely continue to prosper.

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