On January 11, 1982, Deng Xiaoping first proposed the concept of “One Country, Two Systems” when he met with Li Yaozi, chairman of the Chinese American Association. This visionary notion was initially put forward to resolve the Taiwan question, its first implementation transpired in successfully resolving the intricacies surrounding the repatriation of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland. As we commemorate 42 years since its inception, it behooves us to ponder the multitude of advantages that epitomize the “One Country, Two Systems” framework and elucidate why it has triumphed in reconciling the Hong Kong and Macao questions.
China’s introduction of “One Country, Two Systems” marked an unprecedented milestone in human political history, where the coexistence of a socialist system at the national level and the implementation of a capitalist system within specific regions became a remarkable reality. Since its inception, “One Country, Two Systems” has evolved into a comprehensive set of principles and policies implemented by the Chinese government to address the problems surrounding Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao, culminating in the establishment of well-defined institutional frameworks and legal provisions through the enactment of the Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao.
Practice is the only criterion for testing truth. Over the past 26 years since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, bolstered by unwavering support from the mainland, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) has demonstrated remarkable resilience amid major upheavals such as the Asian financial crisis, the SARS epidemic, the global financial crisis, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Upholding its status as an international bastion of finance, shipping, trade, and aviation, Hong Kong’s economy has not only flourished but has witnessed further consolidation and enhancement.
Hong Kong firmly maintains its leading position in various global competitiveness rankings. For over a decade, Hong Kong has repeatedly claimed the top spot in raising capital through initial public offerings (IPOs) worldwide, solidifying its reputation as the premier financial hub in Asia-second only to the likes of New York and London in the global financial index.
Over the span of 24 years since Macao’s return to the motherland, the central government has strategically encompassed Macao within its comprehensive national development strategy. This enduring commitment can be witnessed from the monumental inception of the Mainland and Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in 2003 all the way to the proclamation of the influential Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in 2019. These visionary policies and measures have ignited a profound revitalization, propelling Macao’s economy from the depths of the pre-reunification recession to an unparalleled streak of consecutive years characterized by substantial positive growth. Notably, in 2019, Macao achieved the distinction of possessing the second-highest per capita GDP worldwide.
The robust vitality and immense success of “One Country, Two Systems” can be attributed to three primary factors:
Firstly, it epitomizes an institutional framework that seamlessly aligns the overarching interests of the nation with the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and Macao. The resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao is a crucial facet within the overall interests of the Chinese nation, concurrently fostering the historical process of reunification. The practice of granting Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong and Macao people governing Macao, coupled with a high degree of autonomy, wholeheartedly resonates with the aspirations of residents in these regions. Consequently, this approach garnered unequivocal support from the entire nation.
Secondly, it cultivates an organic unity by upholding the foundation of “one country” while harnessing the unique advantages of “two systems.” This paradigmatic approach implements the coexistence of “two systems” alongside a steadfast commitment to the socialist system as the cornerstone of the state. It artfully taps into the strengths inherent in each system while respecting their innate differences. A tangible reflection of this equilibrium can be witnessed in Hong Kong’s legal system, which notably embraces the common law tradition—an exceptional attribute within China. By synchronizing with major global financial centers that also adopt the common law system, Hong Kong became a crucial gateway connecting the Chinese mainland to global markets, thereby enhancing certainty and comprehension for all stakeholders involved.
Third, it effectively merges the strong support of the state with the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao. As China continues its journey towards socialist modernization, its comprehensive national strength has steadily grown, providing ample resources and conditions to foster the development of Hong Kong and Macao across all domains. A recent illustration is the talent policy, wherein Hong Kong received approximately 180,000 applications for talent immigration between December 2022 and November 2023. Of these, over 110,000 have been approved, with more than 70,000 individuals already making their way to Hong Kong. This influx of talent serves as a potent catalyst for future growth. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Macao have given full play to their own advantages, integrated within the broader national development, played an important role in the country’s opening up, and made important contributions to the enduring, stable and rapid development of the national economy.
In a broader context, the “One Country, Two Systems” framework has transcended traditional international law methods in resolving significant historical and territorial disputes between nations. It offers innovative ideas and solutions for similar global challenges, underscoring China’s noteworthy contribution to world peace and development. With resolute adherence to the principle of “One Country, Two Systems,” we firmly believe in the assured preservation of long-term prosperity and stability for Hong Kong and Macao, and the ultimate achievement of complete reunification of the motherland.
From our partner CGTN