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Blood is thicker than water—How is China pursuing the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and promoting national reunification?

Source: Understanding China: 70 Years of Progress and Development Updated: 2020-08-13

On October 24, 2018, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was officially opened to traffic. Considered one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World", the 55-kilometer-long bridge spans the ocean to connect Hong Kong in the east with Zhuhai and Macao in the west. It was a project of strategic importance, the first one carried out jointly by Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao under the "One Country, Two Systems" framework, which will effectively help increase exchanges, communication, and cooperation among those places. It is a bridge that brings people closer, with an ease of transportation across the ocean that was previously unimaginable. 

National reunification represents the fundamental interest of the Chinese nation and is an unstoppable historical trend. "One Country, Two Systems" is a policy crafted with great Chinese wisdom. It is broadminded in that it adheres to the principle of one China but allows for adequate flexibility with full consideration of the status quo in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. It is a policy that works and will last. Experience has repeatedly proven that this great concept is the best solution for complete reunification of the country, and continues to demonstrate that it is the inevitable choice for maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and achieving peaceful reunification across the Taiwan Strait.  


In March 1925, during his study in the United States, Wen Yiduo, a well-known Chinese poet, published a collection of poems, known as the "Songs of the Seven Sons". Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Weihaiwei, Guangzhou Bay (now Zhanjiang), Kowloon, and Luda (Lushun and Dalian), which were occupied by foreign powers at the time, were described in these poems as seven children taken away from their mother. "Do you know that 'Macao' is not my real name? I have been away from you for too long, Mother! They may have taken my body, but my heart is always with you..." Those touching words from one of the poems about Macao express the strong feelings and desires of the people to be free from colonial occupation and return to the embrace of their motherland.


Wen Yiduo, a pariotic poet (1899-1946) 

More than a century of foreign invasions, occupation, and oppression in modern times left an indelible impression on the Chinese people. At great cost, they had fought relentlessly under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and ultimately established a new republic, with complete reunification of the mainland. China thus set out on a great journey of reconstruction and development under the socialist system that it had chosen for itself. 

When the PRC was founded in 1949, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and the mainland were still in a state of separation for various historical reasons. However, blood is thicker than water. It has been the collective mission of the Chinese people to reunite with their brethren in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan so that our national sovereignty will be maintained and our territorial integrity protected. We are all part of the great journey toward national renewal, and we have made various efforts in furtherance of that goal.

On January 1, 1979, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the PRC published an open letter to the people in Taiwan calling for the Taiwanese authorities to accede to the times and to the aspirations of the people by ending the state of separation and reuniting with the mainland. This letter is well-known for its proposal for peaceful reunification, which marked a major change in policy toward Taiwan in the new era. 

To such ends, we have made positive efforts in different ways and through various channels. In November 1972, shortly after China's return to the United Nations, it pushed for the adoption by the United Nations of a resolution to remove Hong Kong and Macao from the list of colonial territories, which would confirm in international law China's sovereignty over the territories and prevent Hong Kong and Macao from becoming an international issue. 

The sincerity with which we approached the issue and the generous support we provided were widely recognized in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. With the interests of the entire Chinese nation in mind and with the utmost sincerity, we put forward principles and policies that proposed reconciliation and unity as one nation. This was done in the hope that sooner or later, all Chinese, wherever they may be, will come together as part of the great Chinese nation. We have also proposed ideas for a peaceful solution to the question of Taiwan, with several open letters published for the people in Taiwan in order to win their understanding and support. We have done as much as possible to ensure supplies and fresh water for Hong Kong and Macao. In the early years, when the economy of the mainland was going through difficult times, Zhou Enlai, the late Chinese Premier, instructed provinces on the mainland to do all they could, without exception, to guarantee supplies to Hong Kong and Macao." Since 1962, three express trains have been running non-stop with food supplies to Hong Kong, every day except for the first day of the Chinese New Year. According to incomplete statistics, such trains supplied most of the fresh products in the market in Hong Kong and almost 100% of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, goose, and other livestock and poultry products. Those express trains were therefore described by the people in Hong Kong and Macao as their "lifelines". 


Pigs being loaded on an express train bound for Hong Kong 

For many years, we had made efforts that brought Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan closer to the mainland, with increased communications and more favorable political conditions and public opinion on national reunification. We had explored various ways to find a solution to the question of Taiwan and created conditions for developing principles and policies for a peaceful reunification. However, due to changes in the domestic and international environments, the right opportunity for reunification has not yet presented itself, and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan remained separated from the mainland. 


On July 1, 1997, the five-starred national flag of the PRC and the official flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were raised at the handover ceremony at Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor Convention and Exhibition Center, marking the official handover of Hong Kong to China by the British government. Two years later, on December 20, 1999, another handover ceremony was held at the Macao Cultural Center, thus returning Macao to China. Twenty years have passed since then, and recalling these historic moments, we are still excited and proud about the century-old wish coming true. We are also still impressed by the wisdom and power of the great concept of "One Country, Two Systems". 

This creative idea was conceived on the basis of a careful consideration of the reality of the country, with full respect for history and the status quo. At a meeting with President Ne Win of Myanmar in November 1978, Deng Xiaoping said: "We will respect the status quo in Taiwan when the time comes for a solution to the question of Taiwan. For instance, some systems in Taiwan don't have to change... The people can keep their ways of life." It can be seen that his concept of "One Country, Two Systems" had already taken shape by that time. In January 1982, Deng Xiaoping formally put forth the concept of "One Country, Two Systems" for the first time when meeting with Yao-Tzu Li, president of the Chinese American  Association of the United States, and pointed out in clear terms that it would apply not only to Taiwan, but also to Hong Kong and Macao. On many occasions afterwards he elaborated on the concept, which developed into a carefully organized and systematic plan. 

Simply put, "One Country, Two Systems" means that under the premise of one China, the mainland implements the socialist system while Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan implement the capitalist system. This is an unprecedented innovation which is heretofore unheard of in the realm of politics.


Deng Xiaoping meeting with Madame Thatcher, Prime Minister of the UK

Thanks to this concept, Hong Kong and Macao were returned to China in a peaceful manner, contrary to the usual pattern of violence and strife for the recovery of lost territories. This new idea, a solution provided by China to the international community, could be applied to similar issues in the future, and it is a contribution China has made to world peace and development. So, what are the elements that make this such a great creation? 

The concept of "One Country, Two Systems" adheres to principle while allowing for flexibility. There is only one China in the world, and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan are inseparable parts of it. The Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing the whole of China. This is the principle and the bottom line. When these conditions are met, there is room for discussion of anything. If not, then there can be no discussion at all. One analogy in Chinese used to describe the essence of the concept was that all aspects of life would go on as usual after the return of Hong Kong, with "horse racing, stock markets, and nightlife" all carrying on without interruption. 

The principle respects reality and looks to the future. As the old saying goes, "Haste makes waste"; issues must be resolved under the right conditions and at the right time, or else things will not get done. This concept, with its flexibility, accepts the realities in the economy, politics, and culture in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to the greatest extent possible, with full respect for their history and culture as well as the interests and concerns of the local people. With the passage of time, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan will find more common ground with the mainland as a result of more frequent and extensive exchanges between them. 

The principle seeks common ground and puts differences aside. The Chinese nation shares the same roots and has a common history, culture, and traditions. We share the same goal for national reunification, which is in the interest of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. However, common ground does not mean conformity, much less for any one side to take over the other. Rather, it means seeking common ground while reserving space for differences, with a view to reunification in the fundamental interest of the Chinese nation. 

The successful experiences since the return of Hong Kong and Macao have proven, quite convincingly, that "One Country, Two Systems" is the best choice for achieving national reunification. It is a policy that is feasible and popular, with an impact that will last well into the future.


Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect 

The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect is a short name for the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock exchange connectivity mechanism. It enables mainland and Hong Kong investors to trade on stock exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong through their local securities companies (or brokers), buying and selling stocks in the prescribed categories. It went into effect on November 17, 2014. Similarly, Shenzhen-Hong Kong Connect is a short name for the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connectivity mechanism, which began operating on December 5, 2016. 

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