Zhang Dejiang came to Hong Kong last week to deliver a speech at a conference on “one belt, one road” but perhaps the most tangible aspect of the visit was his meeting with four pan-democrats.
After the meeting, Zhang gave a speech at a banquet in which he raised a few points that deserve public attention.
First, Zhang conceded that “one country, two systems” has run into some problems.
While some of these problems emerged only recently, some go back a long way, he said.
Second, he acknowledged that since Hong Kong is a diversified and pluralistic society, it is perfectly natural that people have differences over political, economic and social issues.
He said Beijing is willing to engage in more dialogue with different Hong Kong sectors as long as all parties involved respect “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law.
I have drawn three conclusions.
First, Beijing admits that the problems in Hong Kong are rooted in the design of the system, not in a deliberate act of sabotage by the opposition.
Second, Zhang addressed the reality that Hong Kong people have social and political views that are different from those of Beijing and the central government is willing to listen.
Third, respect for “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law is a pre-condition for any dialogue between Beijing and Hong Kong, a stance that is embraced by an overwhelming majority of pan-democrats.
A summit should be held as soon as possible on the way forward for Hong Kong.
The government should take the lead in organizing this summit and Hong Kong people should set its tone and senior Beijing officials can attend by invitation.
The aim of this summit will be to study the problems with “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law and try to find a solution.
On the other hand, the summit should also discuss the way forward for Hong Kong after 2047 when “one country, two systems” expires.
In fact, issues relating to 2047 are not as distant as we might think.
Legal experts have said some existing land leases are valid beyond July 2047, calling into question whether Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong will remain unchanged after that date.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 24
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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