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Speech by President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China at the Ceremony for the Handover of Hong Kong Held by the Chinese and British Governments

1997/07/01

Your Royal Highness Prince Charles,
Prime Minister Tony Blair,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The national flag of the People's Republic of China and the regional flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China have now solemnly risen over this land. At this moment, people of all countries in the world are casting their eyes on Hong Kong. In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the question of Hong Kong, the two governments have held on schedule the handover ceremony to mark China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the official establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. This is both a festival for the Chinese nation and a victory for the universal cause of peace and justice.

Thus, July 1, 1997 will go down in the annals of history as a day that merits eternal memory. The return of Hong Kong to the motherland after going through more than one century of vicissitudes indicates that from now on, Hong Kong compatriots have become true masters of this Chinese land and that Hong Kong has now entered a new era of development.

History will remember Mr. Deng Xiaoping for his creative concept of "one country, two systems." It is precisely along the course envisaged by this great concept that we have successfully resolved the Hong Kong question through diplomatic negotiations and finally achieved Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

On this solemn occasion, I wish to express thanks to all the personages in both China and Britain who have contributed to the settlement of the Hong Kong question and to all those in the world who have cared for and supported Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

On this solemn occasion, I wish to extend cordial greetings and best wishes to more than six million Hong Kong compatriots who have now returned to the embrace of the motherland.

After the return of Hong Kong, the Chinese Government will unswervingly implement the basic policies of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and "a high degree of autonomy" and keep Hong Kong's previous socio-economic system and way of life of Hong Kong unchanged and its previous laws basically unchanged.

After the return of Hong Kong, the Central People's Government shall be responsible for foreign affairs relating to Hong Kong and the defense of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be vested, in accordance with the Basic Law, with executive power, legislative power and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. Hong Kong people shall enjoy various rights and freedoms according to law. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall gradually develop a democratic system that suits Hong Kong's reality.

After the return, Hong Kong will retain its status of a free port, continue to function as an international financial, trade and shipping center and maintain and develop its economic and cultural ties with other countries, regions, and relevant international organizations. The legitimate economic interests of all countries and regions in Hong Kong will be protected by law.

I hope that all the countries and regions that have investment and trade interests here will continue to work for the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong compatriots have a glorious patriotic tradition. Hong Kong's prosperity today, in the final analysis, has been built by Hong Kong compatriots. It is also inseparable from the development and support of the mainland. I am confident that, with the strong backing of the entire Chinese people, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Hong Kong compatriots will be able to manage Hong Kong well, build it up and maintain its long-term prosperity and stability, thereby ensuring Hong Kong a splendid future.

Thank you.

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