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Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 10:50
‘Unity of purpose’ vital in unprecedented success
By Ho Lok-sang
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 10:50 By Ho Lok-sang

Ho Lok-sang praises the Party’s quiet and understated achievement in taking the country forward, amply demonstrated by Li’s work report

I read with dismay one Ming Pao commentary on the Communist Party of China directive to government officials “to let people have a sense of attainment”. According to this commentator, “a sense of attainment probably refers to earning more money and getting more material wealth, coupled with a sense of honor and pride to serve as bait. When people indulge themselves in unbridled gratification of the senses, they are reminded of the suffering in the past and the sweetness of the revival of the Chinese people. As they benefit from the conveniences of modern technology they are reminded of the backwardness of other nations.” That commentator evidently suggested the CPC used these “baits” into accepting its rule. 

Of course the CPC will ignore such noises and jeering. The central government has been quietly doing its work, with support from most people, and the results are showing. This time around, the central government did not adopt a high profile in telling people how it was going “to surpass Britain and chase after the United States”. It was just quietly doing its work liberalizing its economy, fighting poverty, improving public hygiene, expanding education opportunities, fighting desertification, fighting pollution, introducing green energy, building infrastructure, improving the healthcare system, building up a stronger social safety net, and fulfilling its international obligations. China did not crumble as some doomsayers foretold, but instead is moving from strength to strength. I recall that over the past two decades at least there has never been a shortage of commentators casting doubt on Chinese mainland’s economic-growth figures. Instead of defending its statistics the government just went about doing its work. Today there are just too many achievements for the world to see. China’s success in having vastly modernized its economy and in sharing the success with the masses is now widely recognized.

An important lesson for Hong Kong to learn from Li’s report is that success does not come without unity of purpose. Li, like all the key officials of the country, emphasized the need to follow the Party under the core leadership of President Xi Jinping

Rather than ostentatiously displaying its wealth and rewarding officials with lavish budgets, Premier Li Keqiang — in his Government Work Report delivered on March 5 — implored government officials to continue with restraint in spending and avoiding luxury, thus saving resources for boosting development and for improving welfare of the masses when they are in difficulty. 

An important lesson for Hong Kong to learn from Li’s report is that success does not come without unity of purpose. Li, like all the key officials of the country, emphasized the need to follow the Party under the core leadership of President Xi Jinping. To the opposition parties in Hong Kong and their sympathizers, this is dictatorship. But they do not understand that the Party is not one for self-aggrandizement. As Li stated: “Everything we do is for the people. We need to keep steadfastly to the people-centered development principles. We need to do the best we can, cognizant of the actual conditions of the country, to solve the problems that bother our people, promote social justice and whole-person development, so that people live better year after year with the country’s development.” 

I am not saying that the lesson for Hong Kong is to believe that “the Party knows best” and then defer all judgment to the Party. Nor do I argue that people should just take the government’s decisions for granted. It is certainly good to offer different points of view and one’s best analysis especially when one disagrees with the official view. But all of us should understand that we all have limitations and we may be wrong too. United in purpose means we should not keep insisting we know best, and we should all think of Hong Kong’s best interests rather than the best interests of ourselves. Actually, the central government as well as the special administrative region government routinely conducts consultations on key policies. Li explicitly asked all levels of government to lend an  ear from all quarters, whenever there are major issues that relate to public interest. Nevertheless, in the end governments make decisions and certainly not everybody agrees. That is just a fact of life. 

Actually, the “sense of attainment”is not just material attainment. It also encompasses a sense of achievement. This does enhance our self-esteem but it does not imply that we would then look at other countries condescendingly.

 Apart from a sense of attainment and happiness, Li in his report also mentioned a sense of security. It is the government’s job to enhance people’s sense of attainment, happiness, and freedom from dangers. This is the same in Hong Kong as on the mainland. I am curious why shouldn’t anyone accept the Party’s rule if it was doing a good job on all these fronts.

Li certainly has the priorities right: Innovation to enhance competitiveness, environmental and ecological protection to achieve sustainable development, and sharing the fruits of success to achieve social justice. These are also central policy themes in Hong Kong. We should put down our differences and work together to achieve our common dreams.

The author is dean of business at the Chu Hai College of Higher Education.


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