| Global Times | 2012-7-2 0:40:02
By Global Times
Hong Kong came under the international media spotlight Sunday as it celebrated the 15th anniversary of its return to China. A lot of media analysis focused on the Hong Kong-mainland relationship.
Though the problems and challenges that Hong Kong faces today are understandably highlighted, none of the influential Western media outlets openly claimed that Hong Kong's return was a mistake. Pre-return predictions of doom for the Oriental Pearl have proven unfounded. It is an undeniable fact that Hong Kong has enjoyed 15 years of smooth development.
It is also true Hong Kong has been eclipsed by fast growing inland metropolises, but this cannot be blamed on its return. In other parts of the world, few cities in rich countries develop as fast as Shanghai or Shenzhen. Some worried that Hong Kong's freedom of speech was in jeopardy, which was another baseless claim. Freedom of speech is progressing quickly in the mainland, and there is no reason for this trend to be reversed in Hong Kong.
"One country, two systems," designated by the Basic Law, is the foundation of the governance of Hong Kong after its return. Some claim that the "two systems" part hasn't been strictly implemented. This vague accusation, like extreme views on the other end that "one country" is being ignored, lacks a serious argument.
Hong Kong's return hasn't been accompanied by turbulence and a deteriorating economy, which are typical in transitions of colonies. The overall political structure has been kept, ensuring a smooth shift, which is a blessing.
Conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland after its return have been much less acute than global media had thought. The complaints in Hong Kong society are mostly unrelated to the return. They are mainly results of the global financial crisis or changing political landscape in the Asia Pacific.
For example, the expanding wealth gap, a prominent local issue, is prevalent across the world. Hong Kong residents have certain expectations for the central government to solve the issue. The solution however, has to be based on the general principle of "one country, two systems."
Hong Kong's advantage as a bridge between the mainland and world markets has declined as the mainland opens further. But a richer mainland means more opportunities for Hong Kong than a poorer mainland.
Direct elections for Hong Kong's top leader will be realized in 2017. These two decades of transition are crucial for the region to shift from a colonized island to a truly democratic region. "One country, two systems" is more than a law. It is a mature reality of today.
The mainland is sincere in its support for Hong Kong. If Hong Kong suffers a decline, it will be a humiliation for the whole of China.
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