Henry Ho: Centenary offers opportunity for better understanding

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This week, there will be three anniversary celebrations in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

July 1 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. As a public holiday in Hong Kong, July 1 commemorates the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in 1997. This comes on the heels of the first anniversary of the enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, which put an end to the “black revolution” and restored peace and order in the city after nearly a year of often-violent social unrest masterminded, funded and orchestrated by external forces and executed by separatists in Hong Kong.

Thanks to the “one country, two systems” principle formulated by the CPC, Hong Kong has continued to prosper over the past 24 years. Throughout history, most territorial conflicts were resolved by warfare that was replete with violent deaths and suffering among civilians.

Led by the late leader Deng Xiaoping, the CPC put forward the innovative arrangement of “one country, two systems” to settle the issue of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in a forward-looking and peaceful manner. The Chinese government reached an agreement with the British government through negotiations over China’s resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over the city.

Centenary celebrations of the CPC are best illustrated by historic achievements rather than slogans. When we talk about the institutional strengths of China, including the ability to mobilize resources and people to handle crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, or the achievements of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, the leadership of the CPC is indispensable.

Around a decade ago, tens of millions of rural villagers lived below the United Nations-designated poverty line and struggled to make ends meet. With CPC leadership, the government mapped out the guiding strategy of targeted poverty alleviation, in which officials identified poor villages and directed economic assistance from better-developed regions to help them shake off poverty by fostering industries such as tourism, wine production and farming.

The Party pulled together manpower, financial resources and expert knowledge from eastern regions to bolster economic development in poverty-plagued counties. This one-on-one poverty elimination and assistance within one country would have been impossible for most countries in the world. In what could be the most extensive poverty eradication campaign in the world, almost 100 million impoverished people in over 800 counties shook off poverty with increased income after eight years of concerted efforts since 2013.

While poverty eradication requires long-term and persistent efforts, the CPC has the resolve and skills to mobilize manpower and other resources in an emergency response of any caliber, such as in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s battle against COVID-19 is a textbook campaign of determination and efficiency. While the pandemic is wreaking havoc throughout the world, such as in the United States and Europe, China has mobilized everything necessary as well as the people to contain the spread of COVID-19 with lockdowns and designated hospitals in affected cities. State-run organizations, social groups and businesses have also gone into action to donate money, organize food deliveries and distribute masks and other necessities to the needy. With lockdown measures, strict virus testing, contact tracing and now a nationwide vaccination program, the country has found a viable response mechanism so that life can return to normal swiftly.

China’s governance system ensures the continuity of long-term policies to enhance national development. Economic and social policies in some Western countries are often subject to an upheaval after elections of new leaders every four to five years. China dispenses with such confusion with a governance exercise known as the Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, which has proved instrumental in the country’s healthy development.

Since the early 1950s, the CPC has introduced and continuously improved the five-year development plans to keep nationwide socioeconomic development on the right track. The five-year plans are synonymous with the most extensive and complex research and studies in preparation for devising national policies the world has ever seen. The practice of “one country, two systems” has shown the central government’s commitment to ensuring the capitalist economy and way of life in Hong Kong as well as free trade and a common law system, allowing Hong Kong to maintain economic growth while giving full play to its strengths in the country and on a global stage.

The history of the CPC has been absent from school curriculums in Hong Kong. It is not surprising that some people in Hong Kong misunderstand the CPC. Yet, in recent years, more people in Hong Kong have recognized the importance of the leadership of the CPC, which is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

I hope Thursday is not just a celebration of the CPC’s 100th anniversary, but also a new beginning of learning about and better understanding the CPC and its history, especially among Hong Kong’s young people.

Original from China Daily (June 30, 2021)

The author is founder and chairman of the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum