Xi Jinping hails ‘one country, two systems’ as success

Xi Jinping hails ‘one country, two systems’ as success

During the Chinese premier’s visit to Hong Kong on 1 July – his first trip outside of mainland China since the start of the pandemic – Xi Jinping hailed the successes of the “one country, two systems” principle.

This is supposed to recognise Hong Kong and Macau as separate economic and administrative entities from the rest of China.

Marking 25 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China after British colonial rule, Jinping appeared to lead official state celebrations. He claimed that the system had worked to the benefit of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

“‘One country, two systems’ has been tested and proved time and again. There is no reason to change such a good system and it must be adhered to in the long run,” said the Chinese leader, as reported by Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.

Behind the fanfare

While the official state visit to Hong Kong may have featured a vibrant outpouring of visible support for the Chinese government, the celebrations hide a greater struggle for the autonomy of the region.

Following massive pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 and 2019, China cracked down on political dissent and anyone that advocated independence or democracy for the region. Chinese authorities, using Hong Kong’s police, arrested hundreds of opposition lawmakers, activists, journalists, as well as normal citizens caught up in protests.

While Jinping may hail the “one country, two systems” policy as a success, over the last decade, China has slowly stripped Hong Kong of much of its autonomy and separate governance from China.

In elections to the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo), no pro-democracy candidate was elected after Jinping forced the region to enforce a new electoral system, including an intense screening process for potential council members and a reduced share of directly electable candidates. Not a single pro-democracy candidate currently sits in the LegCo.

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Hong Kong is currently entirely under the control and oversight of pro-Beijing forces led by Carrie Lam, which Jinping has labelled “patriots governing Hong Kong.” In his speech in Hong Kong, Jinping reaffirmed in Mandarin, not the local Cantonese, that the future of Hong Kong was intertwined with China.

He claims that the two systems policy is supported across China and recognised by the international community. “There is no reason to change such a good system, it must be adhered to over the long run.”

Jinping’s landmark speech attempts to reassure Hong Kong’s public, beleaguered by a lengthy lockdown, economic downturn, and social unrest. While the longevity of Hong Kong’s capitalist economic systems seems more likely, the political and administrative independence of the region is not so certain.

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