Staff members count ballots for the election for the seventh-term Legislative Council (LegCo) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Hong Kong, south China, Dec. 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
BEIJING, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday released a white paper on the development of democracy in its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). A senior official overseeing Hong Kong affairs explained the white paper to the media.
The white paper, titled "Hong Kong: Democratic Progress Under the Framework of One Country, Two Systems," was released by the State Council Information Office.
Commenting on the consideration for publishing the document, the official from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said it was released to review the historical facts and reveal the truth to help people better understand the sincerity and goodwill of the central government for the development of Hong Kong's democracy and the efforts it has made in this regard.
The document was released to refute false ideas and respond to malicious slander so that people will better understand the nature and essence of the development of Hong Kong's democracy and further forge consensus on developing Hong Kong's democracy in accordance with the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law, he said.
The document was also published to strengthen the resolve to maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability and ensure the sustained development of the practice of "one country, two systems," he added.
On how to understand Hong Kong's return to China ushering in a new era for democracy, the official said under British colonial rule there was no democracy in Hong Kong.
The colonial rule did not bring any genuine democracy to Hong Kong. Instead, it laid hidden snares for the development of democracy in Hong Kong after its return to China, he said.
There is no question that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government designed, created, advanced and safeguarded Hong Kong's system of democracy, he noted.
Since Hong Kong's return to China, its people have gained much greater access to political participation and enjoy more democratic rights than ever before. Democracy in Hong Kong is flourishing, the official noted.
The establishment of democratic institutions and the exercise of democracy in Hong Kong would not have been possible had China not resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. It would not have been possible without the deep concern of the CPC and the Chinese government for the people of Hong Kong, and without their commitment to the principle of "one country, two systems," the official added.
Explaining the reasons for the serious setbacks of the development of Hong Kong's democracy over the past years, the official said the anti-China agitators in Hong Kong and the external groups behind them must be held to account for impeding the development of democracy in the region.
The development of Hong Kong's democracy has stalled because of the local agitators and the external groups behind them -- the former are the frontline saboteurs and the latter the covert masterminds. Many young people in Hong Kong have become their pawns, and local residents are the victims who will suffer the consequences of this dangerous game, he noted.
Noting that the 2019 turmoil revealed shortcomings in the electoral system of the HKSAR, the official said improving the democratic system is a foundation for sound progress in steering Hong Kong's democracy on the right track.
On the central government's stance on developing democracy in Hong Kong, the official said the central government is committed to implementing the principle of "one country, two systems" fully and faithfully, and supporting Hong Kong in developing a democratic system that conforms to the region's constitutional status and actual conditions.
Hong Kong's improved electoral system ensures the sound long-term development of democracy in Hong Kong, he said.
To further the development of democracy in Hong Kong requires resolute commitment to the principle that Hong Kong is administered by patriots, he noted.
Having patriots administer Hong Kong does not exclude people with different political views or ideas, nor will criticism of the government be suppressed. Democracy in the HKSAR allows ample room for different opinions and political groups, and there will be a plurality of voices, he said.
The system of democracy in Hong Kong should not be a replica of some other model. Rather, a path to democracy with Hong Kong characteristics should be explored, he noted.
The central government will work with all social groups, sectors and stakeholders toward this goal, he added.
The official said that the prospects for democracy are bright under the framework of "one country, two systems," which provides the fundamental guarantee for the development of democracy in the HKSAR.
Hong Kong is entering a new stage of restored order, a thriving society, and further prosperity, said the official, adding that with the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region coming into force, and with improvements to the electoral system, governance by patriots will be further strengthened, the rule of law and the business environment will continue to improve, and Hong Kong will become a more harmonious society.
The policy of "one country, two systems" will be a resounding success story in Hong Kong, and this dynamic region will continue to prosper, said the official. ■