In order to respond to the attention over the situation in Hong Kong SAR, Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. XU Hong wrote an article on the background of the amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in Hong Kong and the position of Chinese Government. Since the article was published in the Dutch newspaper FD on 7 August, many people have called or written to the Chinese Embassy to express their support and understanding to the standpoint of Chinese Government. Meanwhile, there were still some people showing doubt over this matter. In order to further clarify the truth, we would like to respond to some typical questions. We hope people from all walks of life in the Netherlands could understand the situation in Hong Kong better.
1. Some people say that the root cause of the incident was that the Chinese government failed to implement "one country, two systems". After the return of Hong Kong, its economic development was not as good as before. How do you evaluate this view?
This argument is groundless. Since Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, the policy of "one country, two systems" and "the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy" have been effectively implemented. The achievements of "one country, two systems" practice have been recognized universally.
In the past 22 years, Hong Kong has achieved prosperity and stability. Its economic and social development has attracted worldwide attention. Hong Kong's GDP reached more than $360 billion in 2018, more than double the amount in 1996. Hong Kong has been the world's freest economy for 25 consecutive years. The business environment and international competitiveness have been widely recognized by the international community. The EU also acknowledged in its relevant report that "one country, two systems" is effective and runs well in Hong Kong.
In the past 22 years, the central government has been fully supporting Hong Kong in coping with various difficulties and challenges and has provided strong backing for Hong Kong to maintain prosperity and stability, including resisting the Asian financial crisis, the SARS epidemic, and the impact of the international financial crisis. It has introduced policy allowing the individual visits of residents from the mainland of China to Hong Kong and Macao. It established the offshore RMB market in Hong Kong, opened the "Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect", "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect", "Bond Connect", constructed the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Western Corridor, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High-speed Railway, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and other major projects. Great progress has been made in Hong Kong's various undertakings consequently. In 2017, Hong Kong became a new member of the AIIB and fully participated in the Belt and Road Initiative, injecting new impetus into the construction of Hong Kong as an international financial center. In February of this year, the "Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area" was officially announced, clearly defining Hong Kong as the top of the four central cities in the Greater Bay Area, providing new opportunities for Hong Kong's development and providing a golden opportunity to re-create glory.
With the backing of the motherland, connecting the world and China, Hong Kong's status as international finance, trade and shipping centers has been consolidated. Many large companies have chosen Hong Kong for overseas operations. There are also many well-known Dutch companies that have invested in and established branches in Hong Kong. This reflects the trust and confidence of the international community in Hong Kong under "one country, two systems."
We do not deny that Hong Kong does have some deep-seated problems, such as expensive land, housing, and upward social mobility, especially for young people. Any society will have problems like this or that. The reason is complicated. The key to solving these problems is development. Without a harmonious and stable social environment, development is impossible, and these deep-seated problems are hard to be solved.
2.Some people think that the government has undermined Hong Kong's freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights. Hong Kong is "gradually losing its autonomy." Is that true?
This is totally inconsistent with the facts. In the 22 years since the return to the motherland, the rule of law in Hong Kong has been fully guaranteed by the Basic Law, and the environment of the rule of law has been continuously improved, which has been recognized by the international community. Hong Kong's global ranking of the Rule of Law Index has been upgraded from 60th in 1996 to 16th in 2018, much higher than many Western countries. Regarding the election for the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which some people express concern about, the Chief Executive is currently elected by the Election Committee representing various sectors and classes. However, before 1997, the Governor was appointed by the United Kingdom, and the Hong Kong people did not have any opportunity to express their views. The freedom of demonstrations enjoyed by Hong Kong residents nowadays was not available during the time of British colonial domination. In accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, the unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents are guaranteed by the Chinese government.
Hong Kong's status as a regional legal service centre has been established because of its good environment of the rule of law. The Hague Conference on Private International Law, based in the Netherlands, has officially established its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is currently one of the most popular arbitration venues in the world. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has also signed the Host Country Agreement and the related Memorandum of Administrative Arrangements on the Conduct of Dispute Settlement Proceedings in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region with the Chinese Government, according to which the dispute resolution procedure administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration can be conducted in Hong Kong. It shows the trust of the international community in the rule of law in Hong Kong. It has been fully proved that under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong's democracy and the rule of law has not been violated, but been improved largely.
Unfortunately, what happened in Hong Kong rencently has seriously affected the image of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Those who keep saying that they want democracy and the rule of law are doing things that are against democracy and the rule of law. The "autonomy" in their opinion is to abandon "one country", keeping "two systems" only. In fact, they are seeking political self-interests, which must be decisively stopped. And there is no room to compromise.
3. According to some media reports, Hong Kong SAR government's failure to respond to the requirements of protesters and police's use of excessive force led to the escalation of the situation in Hong Kong. What do you respond to these reports?
Ambassador Xu Hong's article has already clearly stated that it made no sense to raise conflict with the excuse of opposing the amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. Besides, the fact that those protesters chose not to stop, but escalate the situation after the Hong Kong SAR government had suspended the amendment, has further proved that their opposition to the amendment is nothing but a disguise. Their true motive is to drag Hong Kong into disorder and chaos and undermine the central government's authority over Hong Kong. Situations are escalating over the past two days. Some violent protesters attacked the police blatantly, including attacking police with gasoline bombs. They disrupted the international airport and grounded tens of thousands of passengers. They harassed, threatened, besieged and even beat citizens who held different views with them. Looking around the globe, which country under rule of law would tolerate such behaviors as expressing political requests through law-breaking violence? Those protesters have neither consideration for the well-being of the whole nation nor of the future of Hong Kong. What they do could only undermine the interest of Hong Kong people as well as that of other countries in Hong Kong. As for what forces are behind the violence, everybody with a reasonable mind could see through clearly. However, it needs to be pointed out that it is only a small fraction of Hong Kong people who are involved in this violence. The great majority has become more and more aware of this handful people's motives, standing up to say no to them and calling for the law enforcement authorities to put an end to this chaos and restore order as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, to our disappointment, some media have played an irresponsible, biased and misleading role in this event, fueling the escalation of violence. They deliberately turn a blind eye to the protesters' violence, their blatant attack on the police, their threats to the families of the police and turned a deaf ear to the great majority's anti-violence voice. But they distorted and exaggerated the police's restrained enforcement of law, with an aim to stir up conflict. Here, we would like to ask, if such violent attacks on the police occur in the west, how will the western police respond and what will the media report about it? We hope those media could uphold the basic moral principles for the press by taking off their colored glasses and stopping distorting the spirit of rule of law.
4.What's the position of Chinese Government at the moment?
Hong Kong SAR is facing the most severe situation ever since it returned to the motherland. Right now, to stop violence and restore order is the predominant task in Hong Kong. Chinese government will continue to uphold the "one country, two system" principle unswervingly and show no tolerance to any activity that might challenge this principle. Any activity that may jeopardize the safety of Chinese national sovereignty, challenge the authoritativeness of the power of central government and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR, as well as activities that take advantage of Hong Kong to intrude and undermine the mainland of China will by no means be tolerated. These are the bottom lines that China will maintain for the national sovereignty and the territory integrity.
The current greatest aspiration of Hong Kong people is stability and security, to restore peace and order so as to prevent Hong Kong from being trapped in the abyss that can no longer stand up from. We firmly believe that the Hong Kong SAR government is fully capable of stopping the violent activity and making those criminals accountable in accordance with law. If the situation in Hong Kong further deteriorates, which goes beyond the control of the Hong Kong SAR government, the central government will definitively not turn a blind eye on it. We are fully confident and capable to cope with the situation in Hong Kong.