Chairman Stephen Perry,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be back at the Young Icebreakers Anniversary Dinner.
In the past 11 years since it was launched, "Young Icebreakers" club has written a chapter in China-UK friendship that is full of youthful vigour. You have made your unique contribution to China-UK cooperation, for which I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks!
I personally feel bonded with "Young Icebreakers". In my more than nine years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I have never missed a single Young Icebreakers anniversary dinner.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It is also the 65th anniversary of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the chargé d'affaires level.
The past 65 years have seen China-UK relationship going through winds and rains. There have been numerous obstacles overcome as well as remarkable successes achieved.
One important lesson we have learned from the history of China-UK relationship is mutual respect. This means we should respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, refrain from interfering in each other's internal affairs, and carry out equal-footed and mutually-beneficial cooperation.
These principles were laid down in the Joint Communiqué when China and the UK established full diplomatic relations. They form the bedrock of China-UK relationship and have been reiterated in many ensuing important documents signed by China and the UK.
History proves that when these principles were upheld, China-UK relationship would move forward; otherwise, this relationship would suffer setbacks or even backpedal.
The Hong Kong question was once an obstacle to the development of China-UK relationship. Regrettably, this question now stands out again in China-UK relationship as violence in Hong Kong continues.
Some politicians in this country have taken advantage of the differences of views concerning Hong Kong's ordinance amendments to accuse China of "going against the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle". They also support activists who are anti-China and aimed at destabilising Hong Kong in order to increase pressure on the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).
The British Government and Parliament published so-called reports on the Hong Kong question and interfered in China's internal affairs as well as the affairs of Hong Kong. This has severely disrupted and undermined China-UK relationship.
Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my views on the Hong Kong issue by answering four questions.
The first question is, how should we correctly and accurately understand "One Country, Two Systems"?
"One Country, Two Systems" was first proposed by Mr. Deng Xiaoping. It is a basic policy of the Chinese Government established according to the Constitution of China and implemented through the Basic Law. It is one complete concept consisting of a complete set of policies.
"One Country" means Hong Kong is part of China, and China has sovereignty over Hong Kong.
Article 1 of the Basic Law stipulates that "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China."
Article 12 stipulates that "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a local administrative region of the People's Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People's Government."
"One Country" is the foundation. It is the precondition and basis for "Two Systems". "Two Systems" is subordinate to and derived from "One Country". Without "One Country", "Two Systems" will no longer exist.
As long as "One Country" is upheld, the Chinese Government respects the differences between the two systems, and supports "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. This position has been clear and consistent.
For this formula to work in Hong Kong, there are three bottom lines – namely, no tolerance for any activity that,
one, undermines national sovereignty and security;
two, challenges the authority of the Central Government or the Basic Law;
and, three, uses Hong Kong for infiltration or sabotage against the Chinese mainland.
The fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China concluded last week reiterated that China will never tolerate any act that challenges the bottom line of "One Country, Two Systems", or any attempt to split the country.
The second question is, who is undermining "One Country, Two Systems"?
In the past 22 years since the handover of Hong Kong, the Chinese Government has remained committed to implementing "One Country, Two Systems" fully and accurately. This is recognised the world over.
A few months ago, the SAR Government proposed to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance for the purpose of plugging a legal loophole, strengthening rule of law and preventing Hong Kong from becoming a haven for fugitives.
In fact, both the initiation and the later withdrawal of the amendments are reflections of "One Country, Two Systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong.
The opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong have taken as an excuse the difference of views on the amendments to stir up trouble, instigate confrontations, advocate "Hong Kong independence" and publicly clamour for the "liberation of Hong Kong". Their real intention is to destabilise Hong Kong and paralyse the SAR Government, so that they could seize administrative power and separate Hong Kong from the motherland. It is they who are undermining "One Country, Two Systems"!
The radical offenders in Hong Kong have conducted a series of violent acts. For weeks and weeks, they have engaged in indiscriminate destruction and carried out vindictive attacks. These senseless and frenzied mobs have committed outrageous and violent offences. Their actions gravely challenged the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong, and posed a severe threat to the safety of life and property of the public. It is these radical offenders who are undermining "One Country, Two Systems"!
Some politicians in Western countries have not only coordinated, guided and funded the violent acts in Hong Kong behind the scene. They have even come to the fore. Last month, the US House of Representatives adopted the so-called "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" in disregard of international law and the norms governing international relations. By taking this move, the US Congress is in fact supporting the violent offenders publicly, interfering in the affairs of Hong Kong and the internal affairs of China blatantly, and attempting to turn Hong Kong into a trouble for China so as to contain China's development. It is these politicians who are undermining "One Country, Two Systems"!
Now let me turn to the third question: Does "One Country, Two Systems" have anything to do with the Sino-British Joint Declaration?
Even today, some people in the UK still cite the Joint Declaration and confuse it with "One Country, Two Systems", as if the UK held the copyright of "One Country, Two Systems"!
As I said earlier, it was Deng Xiaoping who proposed this great concept. The "copyright" of this principle belongs to China. "One Country, Two Systems" is not a synonym of the Joint Declaration. The UK must not claim the right that does not belong to it.
Here is a useful reminder of the contents of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Joint Declaration consists of eight articles and three annexes.
Article 1 states that China is to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. Article 2 states that the UK will restore Hong Kong to China. These articles were both fulfilled at the handover of Hong Kong.
Articles 4, 5 and 6, and Annexes II and III are about the relevant arrangements during the transitional period. Article 7 and 8 are about the implementation and entry into force of the Joint Declaration. All these provisions have been fulfilled with the return of Hong Kong and the completion of the ensuing matters.
What needs to be pointed out is that, in Article 3 and Annex I, the Chinese Government laid out the principles and made detailed elaboration on its basic policies regarding Hong Kong. These policies were proposed by China on our own initiative and they are not China's commitments or obligations to the UK. These basic principles have been included in the Basic Law and will continue to be implemented fully and effectively.
Therefore, "One Country, Two Systems" was not originated from the Joint Declaration at all. When China pledged that "One Country, Two Systems" would remain unchanged for 50 years, we did this in accordance with the Basic Law, rather than the Joint Declaration.
The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of "supervision" over Hong Kong whatsoever. Citing the Joint Declaration as a justification for irresponsible remarks and interference in Hong Kong affairs has no valid ground. This goes against not only "One Country, Two Systems", but also the basic norms governing international relations.
Now let me turn to the fourth question: What is the prospect of "One Country, Two Systems"?
"One Country, Two Systems" is the best arrangement for Hong Kong to maintain long-term prosperity and stability. We have full confidence in "One Country, Two Systems".
At the reception held in Beijing in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, President Xi Jinping reiterated the following:
We will continue to fully and faithfully implement the principles of "One Country, Two Systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. We will act in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law.
We are confident that with the full support of the motherland, and the concerted efforts of all compatriots who love China and love Hong Kong, this great city will grow together with Chinese mainland, and will embrace a more beautiful future!
Recently, Chief Executive Carrie Lam is leading the SAR Government to engage Hong Kong citizens from all walks of life in dialogues. In her 2019 Policy Address, she has put forward many concrete measures and called on the public to cherish the city, put aside differences and rebuild their home.
At a meeting with Chief Executive Carrie Lam a few days ago, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the Central Government's trust in the Chief Executive and full acknowledgement of the work of her and her team.
I firmly believe that with the strong support of the Central Government and under the leadership of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the SAR Government, Hong Kong will overcome the difficulties and put an end to chaos. The "oriental pearl" will once again shine brightly and continue the success of "One Country, Two Systems".
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A stable and prosperous Hong Kong is in the interests of both China and the UK. There are 300,000 British citizens and more than 700 British companies in Hong Kong. The connections and exchanges between the UK and Hong Kong are extensive and close.
I hope that all of you present today will make active efforts to help the public in the UK to understand "One Country, Two Systems" correctly.
I hope you will urge the British Government and Parliament to uphold the basic principles of China-UK relationship. This means respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and no interference in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs.
I hope you will support the SAR Government in bringing the chaos to an end and restoring order, support Hong Kong's efforts in maintaining prosperity and stability.
Let us work together to create sound conditions for the healthy and steady growth of China-UK relationship.