China Headlines: 20 years on, HK prospers under "one country, two systems" (2)

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-28 16:32:49|Editor: MJ
Video PlayerClose


Democracy, but a mirage during Britain's 150 years of rule, has been greatly expanded.

Successive Hong Kong governors were appointed by Britain rather than elected by Hong Kong citizens. It was not until Hong Kong's return to China in 1997 that such political rights were granted to Hong Kong citizens.

The Basic Law, the HKSAR's mini-constitution, gives universal suffrage as the ultimate goal.

The election of the Chief Executive has become increasingly democratic. Candidates for the first Chief Executive were elected by a 400-member Selection Committee, while candidates for the second to fifth-term chief executives were elected by an election committee, which has grown from 800 to 1,200 members.

In 2015, however, a motion to secure universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election was blocked by some lawmakers.

In the meantime, the election of the Legislative Council is becoming more and more direct.

The first Legislative Council formed in 1998 had 20 members elected directly by geographical constituencies, 30 members by functional constituencies, and 10 members by the Election Committee.

Starting from 2004, the third and fourth Legislative Councils both had 30 members elected directly by geographical constituencies, and 30 members by functional constituencies. In 2012, the members of the fifth Legislative Council expanded from 60 to 70.


Hong Kong "can be very proud of itself" for its achievements during the past 20 years, said Eric Berti, consul general of France in the Hong Kong and Macao SARs.

France has about 800 companies in Hong Kong. There is a growing French community, which has doubled to over 20,000 people since 2008, according to Berti.

"It shows the attraction of Hong Kong," he said. "For foreign companies, especially French companies, it is very important to be able to settle here for the wide Chinese market."

As perhaps the most international metropolis in China, Hong Kong is a "super-connector" between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world in terms of trade and investment.

Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Holdings Ltd., has been in Hong Kong for nearly five decades.

Lan Kwai Fong Group in recent years has expanded into cities across the Chinese mainland, including Chengdu, Shanghai and Wuxi, enriching the local nightlife.

"We are quite optimistic about the Chinese consumers' spending power, and we will continue to reach out to the mainland," he said.

Zeman said famous brands that are "Made in Hong Kong" such as Lan Kwai Fong and the Ocean Park can explore the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Both the Belt and Road and the Greater Bay Area are perceived as new impetus for Hong Kong's development.

The Greater Bay Area will include the two SARs and nine cities in Guangdong Province, namely Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai.

According to the central government's annual work report in 2017, China is planning to develop a city cluster in the Greater Bay Area, playing to the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, and elevating their positions and roles in the mainland's development and opening up.

Stressing the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative to Hong Kong, Leung said Hong Kong's enterprises could "take the same boat" as their mainland partners to seek business opportunities in the countries and regions involved in the initiative.

Twenty years may not be very long in the history of China, but it is long enough for a newborn to grow into an adult.

Hong Kong still faces some deeply rooted problems -- high property prices, a yawning wealth gap, and social immobility.

When introducing to the media her governing team on June 21, the HKSAR's incoming Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pledged to serve the people with pragmatism and build a better Hong Kong for the next generation.

"My team and I will strive to rebuild social harmony, enhance public confidence in the government and ensure that the government will better align its work with public aspirations," Lam said.