To better withstand risks from global upheaval, Hong Kong should firmly side with the nation and ramp up efforts to reinforce its role in the national blueprint, political leaders said on Wednesday.
In the face of the increasingly complex international situation, Hong Kong needs the backing of the motherland and should emphasize its responsibility toward the country more than ever, said Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
At a celebration marking the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Luo said it was the nation's rise and progress that enabled the return of Hong Kong to the motherland and its ability to overcome major financial and medical crises and avoid being toppled by radical forces in the city.
The city's prospects are closely tied to the nation's stabilization and prosperity. This is the personal experience of generations of Hong Kong people and their deepest memory of family-state relations, Luo said.
To build a better Hong Kong, Luo suggested the city strengthen Hong Kong people's national identity by sticking to the "one country, two systems" principle, and further promoting education on the Constitution, Basic Law, national security and other national affairs.
He also advised the city to more actively embrace national development by better leveraging the advantages of the "one country, two systems" principle and national strategies such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Speaking at the same event, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the prosperity of the country has brought Hong Kong infinite strength.
With the nation's backing, Hong Kong's economy has developed steadily and livelihoods have been continuously improved since its return to the motherland, Lam said.
More recently, with the nation's support in formulating the National Security Law for Hong Kong and combating the pandemic, the city has restored stability and contained the latest spurt in novel coronavirus infections.
She said she is confident that with support from the nation and Hong Kong people's concerted efforts, the city will definitely overcome challenges ahead.
Addressing the celebration, Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, said Hong Kong's economy is facing its biggest challenge, given the global pandemic and political turbulence.
The critical global situation has highlighted the need for unity, Tung said. He said he is hopeful that Hong Kong society will work more closely under the "one country, two systems" principle to get the city off to a new start and better integrate the nation's development.
"No force can stop the Chinese nation from forging ahead or alienate Hong Kong and the country. The motherland provides the strongest backing for Hong Kong at all times," Tung said.
Some representatives were invited to share their experiences and views on the relationship between Hong Kong and the country at the celebration. Doctor Liu Shao-haei, president of the Hong Kong College of Health Service Executives, was impressed by the mutual help between Hong Kong and mainland medical workers during the recent universal testing program in Hong Kong and the recovery from the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. "History has proved that at critical moments, the people of Hong Kong and our mainland compatriots will always unite with each other," Liu said.
A festive atmosphere overtook Hong Kong on Wednesday, a day ahead of National Day, which coincides with the Mid-Autumn Festival this year. Apart from the high-profile gala, local residents also participated in various activities across the city to mark the birthday of the motherland. National flags flew across the city and schools held flag-raising ceremonies, while youngsters carried national flags to Victoria Peak.