Pledge not to 'lose an inch of country'

Top News | Phoenix Un 19 Dec 2018

President Xi Jinping said China will not tolerate losing even "an inch" of its territory, and extolled the handover of Hong Kong and Macau for overturning 100 years of shame.

Xi, in his 1 hour speech to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening-up, said the central government is insistent on pursuing peaceful reunification.

"We have resumed exercising sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macau, expunging 100 years of disgrace of the Chinese nation," Xi said.

The country is determined to defend its territorial integrity, and has strong ability to do so, he said.

Xi also said the one country, two systems principle had strong vitality, and reiterated the necessity of correctly implementing that principle, as well as the policies of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, Macau people ruling Macau," and a high degree of autonomy.

Beijing would also assist the two SARs to better integrate in the country's development, Xi said.

The Qing government conceded Hong Kong Island to Britain in 1842 according to the Treaty of Nanking, following the Convention of Peking in 1860.

The New Territories was also leased to Britain in 1898 for 99 years according to the Convention between Great Britain and China Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory. British rule ended following the handover in 1997, according to the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984.

Xi also reiterated that the basic interests of the Chinese nation was embedded in the complete unification of China, and Beijing would firmly stick to the "one-China" principle and the "1992 Consensus."

"We strongly oppose and suppress the separatist power of Taiwan independence, and firmly master the leadership role of the relationship development over the Taiwan Strait," Xi said.

"We have the resolute political determination and great ability to defend the national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and not even an inch of the holy soil of the country is allowed to be conceded."

Asked about the meaning of this statement, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office director Zhang Xiaoming said the term "holy soil" mainly referred to Taiwan, but "Hong Kong should also handle independence advocacy with laws."

Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said while Xi's reiteration on the historic disgrace was not new, Xi has anxiety over the implementation of the Basic Law.

"The actual situation made Xi understand that he could not decide anything he wants in Hong Kong as he does on the mainland, and the only way is to make the laws strict, which would leave the public unconvinced," Lau said, believing that Xi was more worried about independence advocacy of Taiwan than Hong Kong.

Beijing also named 100 persons as the "reform pioneers" for their contribution to the Reform and Opening-up, including four from Hong Kong.

They included the former director-general of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, Hong Kong businessmen Tsang Hin-chi, Wong Kwan-cheng, and Henry Fok Ying-tung. Only Chan made it to the ceremony yesterday, and Xi personally congratulated her.

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