'Two systems' much admired, says tungLocal | Staff reporter 22 Jun 2017
The "one country, two systems" principle has been implemented with huge success, said former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.
Tung said most Hongkongers, as well as the international community, would agree with his judgment.
"Many overseas friends told me with envy: 'You [Hong Kong] have the advantage of one country, two systems, and we don't,' " he told state media.
"We have to thank our country and mainland citizens, and make use of the advantages brought by 'one country, two systems' to contribute more to the development of Hong Kong and our country."
In the 20 years since the handover, there have been no changes to Hong Kong's capitalist system and the way people live. The laws remain more or less unchanged, and the rule of law has been defended as a core value, he said.
The central government has ensured that under one country, two systems, Hong Kong has to defend the country's sovereignty and do what is in the country's interest in terms of national safety and development. Most Hongkongers are supportive of the system, and aware that one country comes before two systems.
Tung observed that interactions between Hong Kong and mainland citizens have increased since the handover, with more Hongkongers speaking Putonghua and seeking opportunities across the border.
Tung recalled the SARS outbreak in 2003 as the most difficult period during his time as chief executive.
He said the central government offered help at critical moments by providing medical resources, shortly after Tung reported to state leaders about the shortage. "We were moved by the care offered by the central government."
The biggest challenges faced by Hong Kong, in his view, are high property prices, the big gap between the rich and the poor, youngsters facing difficulties in upward mobility and industries leaving the SAR.
Those problems have to be solved as soon as possible, he said, but he remains optimistic about Hong Kong's future.
Looking forward, Tung hopes Hong Kong can serve as the bridge between the Chinese and Western cultures and take up the task of cultural integration.
"I hope Hong Kong can accomplish this meaningful task. This is my dream, an 80-year-old's dream."