President Xi Jinping's speech during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland cleared up any doubts about "one country, two systems" and was a morale booster for the special administrative region, Hong Kong's political and business leaders said.
They made their remarks at a seminar held by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR on Saturday to study the speech that Xi gave at the ceremony and the inauguration of the SAR's sixth-term administration. About 200 prominent figures from all walks of life took part in the seminar.
Luo Huining, director of the liaison office, said Xi's trip to Hong Kong amid the COVID-19 pandemic showed the great attention the president has for the city, as well as his care and concern for the people of Hong Kong.
Luo said the president's remarks set a definitive tone and served as a morale booster for Hong Kong, greatly bolstering the confidence of people at home and abroad about the sustained and steady implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle.
Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said Xi's speech pointed the way forward for Hong Kong and encouraged the city to stay true to the original aspirations of "one country, two systems".
She said Hong Kong's democracy began after the handover in 1997, when the city started to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, with Hong Kong people administering the city.
Only when governing power is kept firmly in the hands of patriots can the central government's overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong be effectively implemented, the city's long-term stability and prosperity achieved and its deep-seated issues solved, Tam said.
Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the city's largest political party－the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong－said Xi's speech eliminated any doubts and misunderstandings about Hong Kong's future, as the president repeatedly emphasized the need to maintain the city's unique strengths and status.
It's also clear that Xi's message to the city is that only when "one country" is being firmly upheld, can "two systems" be given full play, Lee said.
As to the "four expectations" put forth by Xi, Lee said her party will continue to better itself by upgrading its services to the community, improving policy research and actively training political talent.
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, convener of the Executive Council of the HKSAR, agreed that Xi's remarks removed any shades of gray and set a definitive tone for the future of "one country, two systems" as some Hong Kong people are worried about whether the principle will end after 2047.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, told the seminar that the HKSAR's new governing team should be responsible for safeguarding "one country, two systems".
Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, permanent honorary president of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, said Xi's speech will boost morale regarding the city's long-term development. Choi added that Xi's speech represents a "pat on the shoulder" for Hong Kong's business sector.
Legislator Kenneth Fok Kai-kong said that he shares the aspirations for Hong Kong that Xi set forth－solving the city's housing and medical problems, caring for the elderly and the young, and promoting youth development. The SAR's new administration should ponder this, Fok said.
Fok added that he hopes the new Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau will draw up a blueprint for cultural development and make Hong Kong's culture a "new signature" of the city.
What community leaders say
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, former president of Hong Kong Legislative Council
President Xi's speech conformed to Hong Kong's present situation. One thing that stuck in my mind is that he said Hong Kong can't afford any more turmoil. He also explained to us the future that we could have.
The speech recognized what we were able to do in the past and gave us the confidence to develop more. Xi feels Hong Kong should be able to do it. I think we should also try to show the world that he is right.
Nicolas Aguzin, chief executive officer of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd
I am grateful for the staunch support that the president and the central government had for Hong Kong. I'm all for the high hopes Xi placed on the city. Just like what Xi said, "one country, two systems" is the key to Hong Kong's success. I am sure that Hong Kong, leveraging the strong backing from the country while engaging the world, will embrace even greater success in the next 25 years as the super connector and a leading international financial hub.
Wong Kam-leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers
Xi has instructed in his speech to pay attention to the young generation. I am fully aware of the central government's expectations on cultivating a patriotic young generation after his speech. The fundamental task for the education sector is to cultivate the young and set the right values. How to deepen the patriotism in our education system and expedite the establishment of a national education system are the directions for the city's education reform. We have to set a right value for the young, enhance their national identity in order to raise a young generation that loves the country and the city.
Erik Yim Kong, Hong Kong lawmaker representing the commercial sector
President Xi's first trip outside the Chinese mainland since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak showed his and the central government's heartfelt care and concern for the HKSAR.
The "one country, two systems" practice is the unique advantage of the SAR.It also serves as a solid foundation for the SAR's long-term prosperity and stability. The principle, tested over the past 25 years, shows its strong vitality. The Pearl of the Orient will be more brilliant only if the city makes full use of the advantage of "two systems" under "one country" and integrates itself into the nation's development.