President Jiang Zemin's Speech at Ceremony for Establishment of HKSAR
Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Countrymen,
Today, the Chinese and British Governments have held the handover ceremony of Hong Kong, solemnly announcing the resumption by the Chinese Government of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. Now, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is formally established, which is an event of great importance and far-reaching influence for Hong Kong, for China and even for the whole world. I take this as a red letter day not only for the Hong Kong compatriots, but also for the Chinese people and the entire Chines nation.
At this August historical moment, on behalf of the Central People's Government and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, I wish to extend our warm congratulations on Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to extend our cordial greetings to the six million Hong Kong compatriots now back to the big family of the motherland, and to express our gratitude to the compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and the overseas Chinese who have contributed to Hong Kong's return and all the patriotic personages supporting China's reunification. My thanks also go to all our foreign friends who have cared for and supported Hong Kong's return to China. I also wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, our welcome to the distinguished guests and friends who are present at this Ceremony.
Hong Kong's return to the motherland is a shining page in the annals of the Chinese nation. From now on, the Hong Kong compatriots will truly become masters here as a new leaf will be turned in the annals of Hong Kong.
Since ancient times, our ancestors have lived and labored on this land generation after generation. From the Qin Dynasty to Emperor Daoguang's Reign of the Qing Dynasty, China exercised jurisdiction and sovereignty over Hong Kong. In mid-19th century, after launching two Opium Wars, Britain forced the corrupt and incompetent Qing Government to sign the Treaty of Nanking, 1842 and the Convention of Peking, 1860. In 1898, Britain again coerced the Qing Government into signing the Convention of the Extension of Hong Kong, thus occupying the entire Hong Kong region. Notwithstanding the prolonged separation, the flesh-and-blood bond between the people on mainland and Hong Kong compatriots had never severed; nor had their shared sentiment for the well-being of the nation. The Chinese people have never recognized the unequal treaties imposed on them, never forgotten for a single day the humiliating state of Hong Kong under occupation and never stopped their indomitable struggle for state sovereignty and national emancipation.
With the passage of time, earthshaking changes have taken place. The rise of the first Five-Star Red Flag at Tiananmen Square showed the world that China had achieved national independence and liberation and embarked on a road to socialism. Thanks to reform and opening-up, a rejuvenated Chinese nation has taken on a completely new look, and its international stature has been greatly enhanced. It is under these conditions and against this historical backdrop that Hong Kong has finally returned to the motherland.
In these days of national jubilation for Hong Kong's return, we cherish dearly and with great admiration the memory of Mr Deng Xiaoping, who passed away not long ago. He initiated, with exceptional wisdom and great statesmanship, the creative vision of "one country, two systems," charting the correct course for us to resolve the Hong Kong question through diplomatic negotiations and to maintain long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
After the Chinese Government resumes the exercise of sovereignty over it, Hong Kong will continue to practice the capitalist system, with its previous socio-economic system and way of life remaining unchanged and its laws basically unchanged while the main part of the nation persists in the socialists system.
As a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as provided for by the Basic Law, which includes the executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The Central People's Government will administer foreign and defense affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in accordance with law. We extend our sincere congratulations to Mr. Tung Chee Hwa, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, who has been sworn in today. We have full confidence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government under his leadership and will give it full support. The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be observed not only in Hong Kong, but also by all departments of the Central Government as well as the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government. No central department or locality may or will be allowed to interfere in the affairs which, under the Basic Law, should be administered by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on its own.
After Hong Kong returns to the motherland, the overwhelming majority of the laws previously in force will be maintained. Hong Kong residents will enjoy their rights and freedoms in accordance with law and will be equal before the law. The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labor conventions as applied to Hong Kong will remain in force to be implemented through Hong Kong's regional legislation. A gradually improved democratic system suited to Hong Kong's reality is an important guarantee for its social and political stability. Hong Kong will, in accordance with the Basic Law, develop democracy gradually with the ultimate aim of electing the chief executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage.
After its return to the motherland, Hong Kong will retain the status of a free port and an international financial, trade and shipping center while continuing to maintain and develop its economic and cultural relations with other countries, regions and relevant international organizations so that this international economic metropolis will forever be vigorous and dynamic. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region protects the right to own private property in accordance with law and may, on its own, formulate its economic, trade, monetary, financial, educational, scientific and technological, cultural and sports policies in accordance with law. It will have independent finances, practice an independent taxation system and be a separate customs territory. All the economic and trade activities and investment interests of other countries and regions in Hong Kong will be protected by law. These policies and guidelines have been formulated by the Central People's Government after careful consideration of the need to safeguard both the immediate interests of the Hong Kong compatriots and the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. Their adherence serves Hong Kong, serves the entire nation and serves the world as well. Therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to change them. Here, I would like to reaffirm that "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and "a high degree of autonomy" will remain unchanged for 50 years. This is a long-term basic principle of ours.
Hong Kong's success today is, in the final analysis, the work of the Hong Kong compatriots. Their pioneering and enterprising spirit has filled people around the world with deep admiration. Our Hong Kong compatriots will certainly carry forward this valuable spirit and bring about a better future for Hong Kong. As Mr Deng Xiaoping rightly put it, "The Chinese in Hong Kong have the ability to run the affairs of Hong Kong well and they should be confident of that."
Hong Kong's success today is inseparable from China's development and the support by the people on the mainland. After the founding of New China, the Chinese Government has all along given support for a socially stable and economically prosperous Hong Kong. Since the beginning of China's reform and opening-up, that support has become even more powerful and effective. Hong Kong, as an important bridge linking China and the rest of the world in economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, has benefited from it immensely. With the continuous advance of China's modernization drive, Hong Kong's economic link with the mainland will become even closer and its role as a bridge will be increasingly enhanced. This in turn will give a stronger impetus to Hong Kong's economic growth.
Hong Kong's success today is also attributable to a number of other factors. Its advantageous geographical location, its free port policy of complete openness, its well-developed legal system and highly efficient team of civil service, and its effective economic management and civic administration have all facilitated Hong Kong's economic development. These factors will continue to play a positive role after its return.
Our Hong Kong compatriots are known for their glorious tradition of patriotism. They have made important contributions in the struggle for national liberation and in the modernization drive of the motherland. Hong Kong compatriots will surely display greater love for the motherland and for Hong Kong, and take it as their utmost honor to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and safeguard the fundamental interests of the country and the nation.
To many foreigners living here, Hong Kong has already become their home. It will remain their home in the future where they can live and work in peace and contentment. In Hong Kong, everyone will have the chance to compete on an equal footing and everyone will be entitled to the rights and freedoms as protected by law, regardless of race and color.
By achieving a negotiated settlement of the Hong Kong question, the Chinese and British Governments have provided the international community with an example of peaceful settlement of historical issues between states. Here, I wish to express my thanks to those British personages, both within and without the government, for their contributions to the smooth transition of Hong Kong. We are confident that the successful solution to the Hong Kong question will help strengthen the friendship between the two peoples.
Thanks to reform, opening-up and the modernization drive, China has witnessed tremendous changes in its economic and social life. We owe all our achievements most fundamentally to the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics which we have taken. We will unswervingly take economic development as our central task, continue to deepen reform, open still wider to the outside world and push for overall social progress. We will unswervingly promote peaceful reunification of the motherland in accordance with the principle of "one country, two systems", ensuring a smooth return of Macao and eventually resolving the Taiwan question. We will unswervingly pursue the independent foreign policy of peace, join the people of other countries in maintaining world peace and promoting common development, and contribute our share to the establishment of a fair and equitable new international order of peace and stability.
The advent of the 21st century has entered a countdown stage. Our country is at an important historical juncture. Let the entire Chinese people, our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and the overseas Chinese included, get untied, let all patriots who support China's reunification and care for its development get united. Let us all work hard with one mind, seize the day, seize the hour, keep abreast of the times and strive for the complete reunification of the motherland and the overall rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.