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"One Country, Two Systems"-- an unprecedented concept

Source: Understanding China -- 70 Years of Progress and Development Updated: 2021-01-14

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.



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. 

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. 

The views don't necessarily reflect those of Qiushi Journal.