The meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland and also the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was held on Friday morning at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended the event and delivered an address.
Over the past 25 years, with the full support of the country and the joint efforts of the HKSAR government and people from all walks of life in Hong Kong, the success of “one country, two systems” has won recognition throughout the world, Xi said.
“One country, two systems” has been tested repeatedly in practice. It serves the fundamental interests of not only Hong Kong and Macao, but also the whole country and the nation. It has gained wide support from the 1.4 billion-plus Chinese people including the residents of Hong Kong and Macao. It is also widely accepted by the international community. There is no reason for us to change such a good policy, and we must adhere to it in the long run, Xi stressed.
The atmosphere in the center was solemn and warm. Behind the podium were the national flag and emblem of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the flag of the HKSAR. Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan walked into the center accompanied by John Lee, the sixth-term chief executive of the HKSAR, and his wife Janet Lam. All present rose and greeted them with warm applause.
The meeting and inauguration ceremony began at around 10 a.m. All rose and sang the national anthem of the PRC.
Xi walked onto the stage to administer the inauguration. Lee took his oath of office, as stipulated in the Basic Law of the HKSAR, in front of the national flag and emblem of the PRC and the flag of the HKSAR with his right hand raised, sworn in as the sixth-term chief executive.
Then, led by Lee, principal officials of the sixth-term HKSAR government took their oaths, administered by Xi.
Members of the Executive Council of the HKSAR were then sworn in by Lee.
After a shower of applause, Xi delivered a speech. He first extended sincere greetings to all the people of Hong Kong and expressed warm congratulations to the newly inaugurated sixth-term HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee, principal officials of the sixth-term HKSAR government, and members of the Executive Council. And Xi expressed heartfelt appreciation to all fellow compatriots both at home and abroad, and international friends for their support for the cause of “one country, two systems” and for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
According to Xi, in the over 5000-year history of Chinese civilization, Chinese ancestors working hard on the land south of the Five Ridges is an important chapter. In the history of modern China after the Opium War in 1840, the humiliation of ceding Hong Kong is a page of pain and also included is the Chinese people’s fight for the survival of our country in Hong Kong. The past century has witnessed how the Communist Party of China has united and led the Chinese people in its magnificent endeavors for a better future, to which fellow Chinese in Hong Kong has made unique and significant contributions. Throughout history, people in Hong Kong have always maintained a close bond with the motherland in weal and woe.
The fundamental purpose of “one country, two systems” is to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests and to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao. All that the central government has done are for the benefits of Hong Kong and Macao, for the wellbeing of all residents of the two regions, and for the future of the whole country. “One country, two systems” has been tested repeatedly in practice. It serves the fundamental interests of not only Hong Kong and Macao, but also the whole country and the nation. It has gained wide support from the 1.4 billion-plus Chinese people including the residents of Hong Kong and Macao. It is also widely accepted by the international community. There is no reason for us to change such a good policy, and we must adhere to it in the long run, Xi stressed.
The practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong has left us both valuable experiences and profound inspirations. Only if we have a profound and accurate understanding of the laws guiding the practice of “one country, two systems,” can we make sure our cause advances in the right direction in a sound and sustained manner, Xi noted.
First, we must fully and faithfully implement the principle of “one country, two systems.” This principle embodies a complete system. Its top priority is to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests. With this as a prerequisite, Hong Kong and Macao can keep the previous capitalist systems unchanged for a long time and enjoy a high degree of autonomy. The thorough and precise implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle will open up broader prospects for the development of Hong Kong and Macao. The more firmly the “one country” principle is upheld, the greater strength the “two systems” will be unleashed for the development of the SARs, Xi said.
Second, we must uphold the central government’s overall jurisdiction while securing the SARs’ high degree of autonomy. The central government’s overall jurisdiction over the SARs underpins their high degree of autonomy, and such autonomy bestowed by the law is fully respected and resolutely safeguarded by the central government. Only when the enforcement of the central government’s overall jurisdiction dovetails with the fulfillment of a high degree of autonomy in the SARs, can the SARs be well governed.
Third, we must ensure that Hong Kong is administered by patriots. It is a universal political rule that a government must be in the hands of patriots. The government of the HKSAR must be safely kept in the hands of those who love the country. This is an essential requirement for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability and must not be compromised under any circumstances. To put the governing power in the right hands is to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability as well as the immediate interests of more than 7 million people in the region.
Fourth, Hong Kong should maintain its distinctive status and advantages. Hong Kong’s close connection with the world market and strong support from the motherland are its distinctive advantages. The central government fully supports Hong Kong in its effort to maintain its distinctive status and edges, to improve its presence as an international financial, shipping and trading center, to keep its business environment free, open and regulated, and to maintain the common law, so as to expand and facilitate its exchanges with the world. On the country’s journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects and realizing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the central government believes that Hong Kong will make great contributions.
Xi made four proposals for the newly inaugurated government of the HKSAR and people of all sectors in Hong Kong. First, Hong Kong should improve its governance and deliver better performance in ensuring stability and prosperity in the region. Second, Hong Kong should continue to create strong impetus for growth and unlock enormous creativity and development potential of Hong Kong society. Third, Hong Kong should earnestly address people’s concerns and difficulties in daily life and make sure that all citizens in Hong Kong share more fully and fairly in the fruits of development. Fourth, the people of Hong Kong should work together to safeguard harmony and stability, creating a better future.
Xi stressed that it is important to give special love and care to young people. We must guide young people to be keenly aware of the trends in both China and the world and help them cultivate a sense of national pride and enhance their awareness of their status as masters of the country. We must help young people with their difficulties in studies, employment, entrepreneurship, and purchasing of housing, so that more opportunities will be created for their development and accomplishment. We sincerely hope that all of Hong Kong’s young people will devote themselves to building Hong Kong into a better home, writing a rewarding chapter of their life with impassioned youth.
Xi said that China’s national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability, and the successful practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong is an important part of this historic process. We firmly believe that, with the strong backing of the motherland and the solid guarantee provided by “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong will surely create a splendid feat on the journey ahead toward the second centenary goal of building China into a modern socialist country in all respects, and will share the glory of the Chinese nation’s rejuvenation together with people in the rest of the country.
John Lee said in his speech that as the sixth-term chief executive of the HKSAR, he felt deeply honored and is also well aware of the immense responsibility on his shoulders. He said that he will lead his governance team in making all-out efforts and will unite people from all sectors in Hong Kong in order to fully and faithfully implement the policy of “one country, two systems,” under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. He promised that his team will protect the special administrative region’s constitutional order as defined in the Constitution of the PRC and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and secure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, with a view to contributing to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Ding Xuexiang, Xu Qiliang, Shen Yueyue, Wang Yi, and Xia Baolong attended the meeting and inaugural ceremony.
Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Carrie Lam, former chief executive of the HKSAR, as well as representatives from Hong Kong society and specially invited guests also attended the meeting and inaugural ceremony.