Opinion丨HKSAR 25th anniversary – An unconditional support of our motherland for a quarter century
By Edward Hei Leung, LegCo Member
This Friday our city will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its return to China. It cannot be denied that the territory has made progress in several domains under the continued practice of One Country, Two Systems. Let us have a quick review.
Under colonial rule, foreigners occupied key posts. The city's top officials were directly appointed by the United Kingdom. The governor was the co-president of Executive and Legislative Council until February 1993. When the British government ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1976, it excluded the application of periodic elections in Hong Kong. Ironically, the last governor initiated the electoral reform that undermined China's sovereignty and full governance. That is to say, the UK did not only fail to bring true democracy, but also sow the seed of political unrest, for instance, the electoral reform initiated by the last governor to undermine. Unlike the British rule, we now elect the Legislative members, meanwhile the election committee with extensive and balanced participation can vote for our Chief Executive as well.
As to the rule of law, thanks to the Basic Law, accompanied by the subsequent enactment of National Security Law, the city has an internationally recognized foundation. According to World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, Hong Kong percentile rank has increased from 69.85 in 1996 to 91.83 in 2020, the Pearl of the Orient has remained within the top 20 in Rule of Law and Control of Corruption around the globe.
Regarding the economic performance, Hong Kong's real GDP grows at an average annual rate of 2.7%. In nominal terms, our GDP in 2021 is HKD 2.86 trillion, at least two times higher than the one in 1997. As the world's freest economy, the city is the global offshore RMB business hub, sharing about 76% of the world's RMB payments in 2021. Starting from 2009, our stock market has been ranked the world's largest IPO fundraising market seven times, the number of listed Chinese firms in Hong Kong Stock Exchange is over 2,500, accounting for nearly 77.7% of the total market capitalization. In other words, the city thrives economically, largely due to the persistent support from mainland China, including the cross-boundary fund flows, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, and Hong Kong Express Rail Link, to name but a few.
From the perspective of social welfare, the so-called $2 scheme began in 2012, and the target beneficiary is now extended to people aged 60 or above. At the same time, the government set up the Old Age Living Allowance for Hong Kong residents aged above 65 years old. Qualified applicants can even receive subsidies while living in either Guangdong or Fujian province, not to mention the application of Health Care Voucher at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital. At the school level, the colonial governance was committed to providing free and compulsory education for 9 years only. The period was then extended to 15 years in 2017. Universities in mainland China welcome the application of Hong Kong students.
In light of these, after the return to China, the territory enjoys a blossomed economy, together with a more comprehensive scheme for social and educational benefits. Compared with the UK where its people suffer from Brexit, China is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Thanks to the unconditional support from our motherland, the future ahead must be brighter than ever for the Pearl of the Orient.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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