Obstacles can't block HK-mainland ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-12 18:48:01

It has been almost 16 years since Hong Kong returned to China, and there have been many achievements since then, especially in terms of economic cooperation.

The economic growth of the mainland gave an impetus to Hong Kong's economic development and industrial restructuring.

But meanwhile, new problems have constantly sprung up, with some even resulting in political disturbances. We have to look seriously at these specific issues.

Hong Kong has limited the export of its baby formula and it has also increased tax on mainlanders purchasing houses in Hong Kong. But these are temporary measures.

It must be stressed that Hong Kong has no alternative but to do so. The Hongkongers know that these measures will provoke the mainlanders, but there are few other choices in the short run.

The opening-up of Hong Kong to the mainland cannot be stopped. Because of intensified cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland and the growing number of mainlanders arriving in Hong Kong, Hong Kong's ability to cope has been stretched.

As to those temporary restrictions that are harmful to relations with the mainlanders, there are also divergent voices within Hong Kong.

Some Hongkongers are worried whether these measures would jeopardize the image of Hong Kong as a free harbor and whether they violate the principles of free trade. 

Instead of adopting more restrictive measures, Hong Kong should strive to satisfy increasing demands.

Mainlanders coming to Hong Kong for products or services provide economic opportunity to Hong Kong, and in the long run, Hong Kong should seize the opportunity to build more facilities. Currently, Hong Kong is faced with a bottleneck.

There are also worries that some Hongkongers don't see themselves as Chinese, but we have to remember that Hong Kong was under British rule for over a century, during which its prosperity boomed and many people fled there from the mainland. It is understandable that they have some political prejudices.

Due to conflicts of interest, localism and nativism are present in Hong Kong, but this is only supported by a small group and cannot represent the mainstream of Hongkongers. I am optimistic that these problems can be solved. Hongkongers' national consciousness has been constantly on the rise since the reunification in 1997.

The central government has clearly stated its support for Hong Kong introducing the general elections of the chief executive and the legislative council, as opposed to the current selection by a small group of the elite. This is a difficult problem at present.

Introducing general elections not only involves political reform in Hong Kong, but is also concerned with implementation of the principle of "one country, two systems." And it will have a profound influence on Hong Kong's economic structure and social conflicts.

In the process of promoting Hong Kong's democracy, how can we ensure the good interaction between the central government and Hong Kong? How can we ensure a sound investment environment in Hong Kong? And how can we avoid populism and keep Hong Kong's tradition of small government?

All these problems deserve special attention.

Although there's a consensus that Hong Kong should promote democracy, we will see hot discussions and big divergences on the speed and pace of introducing general elections in the next few years.

Fundamentally, we need to enhance mutual understanding.

The mainlanders should learn to understand Hong Kong's special history, values, lifestyles and the role that Hong Kong could play in our country's development.

Meanwhile, Hongkongers should learn about the country's history, economic and political systems and the benefits Hong Kong could enjoy from the nation's development.

The two should tolerate each other, and especially respect each other. It's an undeniable fact that Hong Kong and the mainland have grown into an inseparable community, and our common interests are much bigger than divergences.       

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui, based on an interview with Lau Siu-kai, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, emeritus professor of sociology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and former head of the Hong Kong government's think tank, the Central Policy Unit. yujincui@globaltimes.com.cn



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