Published: 01:26, August 11, 2020 | Updated: 20:22, June 5, 2023
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HK ready to get back on track
By Paul Yeung

To safeguard public health and ensure a fair election, the special administrative region government has officially postponed the Legislative Council election by one year. In fact, more than 60 countries or regions around the world have delayed elections, citing similar health concerns. The situation for Hong Kong, however, is more complex, as the city is confronting the most turbulent external political climate amid the threat of international sanctions. Therefore, in the year ahead, we all need to think carefully about how to get Hong Kong back on the right track.

A handful of foreign politicians have invariably criticized Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” as a system different from the Western-style “democratic system”. In their minds, it is not a good system that can ensure Hong Kong’s status as an international financial and business center. However, what China has been doing proves otherwise. Confident in its socialist system, the country has made impressive strides in its economic strength, poverty alleviation, technological development, etc. These achievements are contrary to the claims of those who do not believe in “one country, two systems”.

The SAR government must first get the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic under control. The fact that Hong Kong recorded 100-odd confirmed cases for more than 10 days in a row from July to early August proves that the risk of community transmission and hidden carriers do exist. For this reason, Hong Kong must enhance its capability to respond to a pandemic such as COVID-19. With the support of medical staff from the mainland, one of the multipurpose halls at AsiaWorld-Expo has been converted into a temporary quarantine ward, or bunk hospital, to ease the burden on our healthcare system. In order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the central government has also dispatched a nucleic-acid-test support team from the mainland to help Hong Kong implement citywide COVID-19 screening as well as to set up temporary quarantine and treatment centers. Currently, the government has tightened quarantine exemption arrangements for sailors and airline crew members to reduce imported infections. Looking ahead, Hong Kong should steadily expand nucleic acid testing among local residents, especially those in high-risk sectors, and eventually everybody. Right now, the international community tends to see how effective a government is in containing the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to governance proficiency. With firm support from the central government, Hong Kong is expected to perform well in this respect.

Hong Kong already has everything it needs to excel, and the central government’s support is the ultimate assurance going forward on the right track

The SAR government alone cannot do everything in this fight, and the pro-establishment camp can and should play a positive role. For many years, pro-establishment parties have been labeled the “royalist bloc” by the opposition camp — for the sake of justifying its unlawful behavior and obscuring the contributions made by pro-establishment parties to Hong Kong society. As an important political force, the pro-establishment groups have what it takes to lead and unite local residents in supporting the SAR government with grassroots community work and as a bridge connecting the government and the general public. In doing so, the pro-establishment camp has won the trust of local society as well as of the government. For example, when the government tightened social-distancing rules recently and banned all eateries from allowing dine-in service, the pro-establishment parties immediately conveyed the real needs of people for dine-in service, including breakfast and lunch near their workplace, to the government. The latter responded swiftly by easing the dine-in ban to dinnertime only. This shows responsiveness to popular wishes — an important indicator of good governance — is an effective way to build public trust and confidence despite endless smearing by the opposition and its biased foreign supporters.

It should be kept in mind that both the SAR government and pro-establishment camp will need to overcome various obstacles in the foreseeable future, presumably created more often than not by “burn together” advocates masquerading as localists. Some prominent “pan-democrats” decided to act like “the loyal opposition” after witnessing the disqualification of 12 fellow politicians from entering the LegCo election race as candidates, while the die-hard saboteurs are expected to continue doing damage however they can. That is why the government and pro-establishment parties are better off maintaining their vigilance up in view of the coming political storm and even crisis.

Earlier, the spokesperson of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, when asked to comment on the disqualification of 12 aspirants as LegCo election candidates, reminded people of a Chinese proverb: “No rules, no standards.” It is a well-known refrain from the teachings of Mencius telling us that rules are as important as skills and fine tools to quality work. Hong Kong already has everything it needs to excel, and the central government’s support is the ultimate assurance going forward on the right track.

The author is senior research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.