US envoy Tong urges HK to safeguard 'one country, two systems' and not lose it

Local | 22 Sep 2016 2:19 pm

Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy under the 'one country, two systems' framework requires care and attention to maintain, the new US Consul-General Kurt Tong said today, while noting that it has been highly successful in protecting Hong Kong's open society and institutions.

It would be a loss, economically as well as culturally he said, if Hong Kong were to lose its specialness, an element reflected in the "S" in the SAR. "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. For Hong Kong is indeed special, and our relationship with Hong Kong is special.''

He was speaking today at the American Chamber of Commerce.

Tong made the remarks as he outlined several aspects that make Hong Kong special.

He said the construct of 'one country, two systems', is the key framework that makes all this "specialness" possible and sustainable over time.

Tong said: "'One country, two systems' is not only a very unique and special reality. It is also a construct that both China's central government and the people of Hong Kong -- and for that matter, the United States as well -- all aim to maintain.

"This does not mean anyone can be complacent. Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy under the "one country, two systems" construct is something that requires care and attention to maintain.''

He said the United States' support for Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy is spelled out in the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act.

"I think there is a lot at stake here. Hong Kong is definitely part of China. But Hong Kong also exists as one of the world's leading cities, and many people outside China also have a stake in its success. It would be a great loss to the global commons -- economically as well as culturally -- if Hong Kong were to somehow lose its "specialness."

Tong said the United States and the people of Hong Kong share an abiding respect for certain fundamental freedoms, and certain core values. I believe that these values are as much a part of Hong Kong's success as its well-deserved reputation for efficiency as a global hub for international finance and trade.

We share values like freedom of expression, of the press, and of assembly. Academic freedom, and open space for critical debate, he said.

Referring to the recent elections to the Legislative Council, Tong said the record turnout "showed how much people here are committed to the idea of democratic participation in politics.''

Tong said he was eager to meet with all 70 Legislative Council members as soon as possible after they are sworn in. "Seventy is a lot, so it may take a while. But our consulate team is ready to talk about U.S.-Hong Kong relations with anyone, regardless of their political views.''

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