Saturday June 30, 2012
Maintaining a China identity
MADE IN CHINA By CHOW HOW BAN
Hong Kong SAR chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying takes over the reins of government tomorrow and throws a challenge to the city to really call China its home.
TOMORROW, the people of Hong Kong and the mainland Chinese will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China.
Days ahead of the momentous celebration that will be attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao and featuring fireworks, military parade and parachute jumps, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying threw a challenge to the city to really call China its home.
During an interview with the Chinese media late last month, Leung said that since the handover in 1997, the city dwellers had developed a sense of belonging with their motherland but it would take a little longer before remnants of the British influence disappear entirely.
“There are two meanings of the handover. First, Hong Kong was legally returned to China and the Chinese government retained the administrative power of Hong Kong by establishing the HKSAR and passing the Basic Law for the ‘one country, two systems’ and ‘Hong Kong run by Hong Kong people’ model,” the People’s Daily quoted Leung.
“On the other hand, Hong Kong was under British control for 100 years. More needs to be done to rid that influence on people.”
For instance, he said, some Hong Kong people would still say that they were “leaving for China” instead of “going to the mainland”.
He cited an example where a Hong Kong saleswoman told her friend on the mainland that she had visited Beijing on her friend’s National Day, instead of referring to the celebration as hers, too.
“These people may not have any political stance when they speak that way. This is probably due to decades of British rule. We will keep on educating our people so that they can better understand the country. But we cannot rush it; it has to be done step by step,” he said.
Leung will begin his tenure as the new boss of the city for a five-year term starting tomorrow, along with his government line-up of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, John Tsang and 18 others.
Besides working on better interaction between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese people, the new HKSAR government has to tackle social problems such as the influx of mainlanders which puts a strain on the city’s healthcare and housing resources.
On the economy, Hong Kong will have to work around the central government’s supporting policies to maintain its competitiveness and improve its people’s livelihood.
In its editorial, the Hong Kong-based Sing Pao daily said the people of Hong Kong had mixed emotions and experienced ups and downs in the last 15 years, but the city was heading in the right direction under the “one country, two systems” policy.
“It was unavoidable that we had to ‘cross the river by touching the stones’. In the past 15 years, we have seen numerous conflict of opinions, political hostility and delayed reforms. No matter how many protests and demonstrations were staged, the majority of residents remain united in steering this boat named Hong Kong forward,” it said.
Oriental Daily hoped that Leung would “clean up the mess” left behind by his predecessors Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang, and, turn around the economy and stabilise the social situation.
“During elections, Leung Chun-ying pledged to introduce a financial development unit if he was elected. Now he has walked the talk by setting up a committee headed by executive council member Laura M. Cha to form the objectives, functions and operations of the unit.
“Leung should invite financial advisers and economics experts to give their input on how to solidify Hong Kong’s status as the world financial centre and to counter future financial crises. Let us see if the Leung administration can lead Hong Kong on a new path of development,” the newspaper said.
Recently, Beijing announced a package of supporting policies such as issuing bourse-traded funds listed on both the Hong Kong and mainland stock markets, encouraging foreign investors to use the yuan for trade settlement in the city and easing restrictions on small businesses run by Hong Kong residents in the mainland.
Peng Qinghua, director of the liaison office of the central government in HKSAR, told China Daily that Beijing had played a key role in maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity by keeping its promise of autonomy for the HKSAR government.
“The economic achievement in Hong Kong today is the result of its people’s ability to take the opportunities, and their flexibility and diligence. However, it could not have happened without the support of its motherland,” he said.
Peng hoped that the people from both sides would continue to respect their differences, improve communications and deepen cooperation in order to achieve real unity.