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One Country, Two Systems Framework Key to Hong Kong’s Success

Event Recap

19 June 2017
Event Recap

“Hong Kong is a success story,” said U.S. Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Kurt Tong on Thursday, June 15 at Asia Society New York. Tong joined ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler for a candid conversation on political and economic developments in Hong Kong in the run up to the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Great Britain to China.

Tong highlighted the “one country, two systems” framework as a key to Hong Kong’s success as an international financial hub and regional powerhouse. The framework allows Hong Kong to largely manage its own political and economic affairs, separate from the mainland authorities, while remaining part of the People’s Republic of China. “The one country, two systems framework is essential to what makes Hong Kong special,” said Tong. “It has been the most critical element of Hong Kong’s competitiveness, its relevance, and its freedoms, values, and traditions that the Hong Kong people continue to enjoy.” 

Hong Kong is “competitive and relevant despite the disparity in size” with mainland China, “because of the nature of its governance and the capabilities of its people,” Tong explained.

In addition to addressing economic developments within Hong Kong, Tong also discussed the political relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China and expectations for the future as the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam takes her oath of office next month.

When asked whether recent political tensions with Beijing — including Beijing’s detention of several Hong Kong booksellers and prevention of pro-independence legislative council members from taking their oaths — indicated that the principle of “one country, two systems” was eroding, Tong noted that while he thought the mainland authorities had violated Hong Kong’s constitutional document in certain instances, these actions were not “decisive, undermining, or mean the end of one country two systems.”

He noted, however, that “China tends to overemphasize one country, and underemphasize two systems, and it needs to be a balancing act, and it requires good judgment in order to maintain the value of the framework. Both of those elements are essential.”

Watch the complete video of Thursday's program below: