Henry K C HO : “One Country, Two Systems” Should Never be a Monologue

Yiqiao WANG: “Revolving Door”: Does It Work for Hong Kong?
Henry K C HO: Two Systems Mentality Requires Mutual Respect

Recently Ming Pao published an editorial titled “Hong Kong people’s demand for ‘One Country, Two Systems’ should be explored after 20 years of reunification”. The article pointed out that Hong Kong needs to examine the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” in addition to the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. It also supposed that the central government has made its official position very clear through official speeches and the White Paper on the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy in Hong Kong. Thus, it is not necessary to involve Mainland experts and scholars in the discussion in order to avoid the interaction being “emotional”,which is “not helpful for a rational discussion; nor is it helpful to fully demonstrate the mainstream orientation of the Hong Kong people”.


Undeniably, more and more people in Hong Kong and the Mainland are feeling that the policy of “One Country, Two Systems” has been bent or distorted and has moved farther and farther away from its original intention. In the past few years, I have travelled extensively between Hong Kong and the Mainland to conduct research and deliver lectures. It has become apparent to me that those older people in the Mainland, particularly middle-aged adults who experienced the history before the reunification, are disappointed about the situation in Hong Kong. On the contrary, the younger the Mainlanders are, the more dissatisfied and impatient they tend to feel about the situation in Hong Kong. The same case applies to young people in Hong Kong, which is exactly the crux of how “One Country, Two Systems” could succeed.


The experience of the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” suggests that besides a broader participation of Hong Kong people from different political spectrums, it is more important for us to communicate effectively with the Mainland. In this case, “effectively” means that we should first try to understand their viewpoints before responding and then begin to seek a small-scale consensus. Take the White Paper on the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” as an example, the pan-democracy camp demanded that Mrs Carrie Lam convey the message of asking the central government to “withdraw” the White Paper, while the Ming Pao editorial also notes that “the mainstream of Hong Kong public disagrees” with it. The point is, the White Paper with tens of thousands of words, has been published for nearly three years. Which with specific sections of the White Paper are the people of Hong Kong dissatisfied? What are the reasons for their dissatisfaction? Some pan-democratic politicians have shouted slogans against some of the controversial terms such as “overall jurisdiction” and “Hong Kong must be governed by patriots”, but how many of them have ever seriously studied the White Paper and made any meaningful responses to it?



The editorial also mentions that the discussion of the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” should not involve any Mainland experts and scholars, and I disagree with this. In recent years. I have been in contact with many young scholars studying Hong Kong and Macao in the Mainland and I have found that many Hong Kong people take it for granted that Mainland scholars convey only official views, which is actually far from the truth. Compared with previous generations, many young scholars from the Mainland have gained broader experience of studying abroad and have a deep understanding of both the Chinese and Western cultures. Some scholars have visited or studied for their PhDs in Hong Kong and published books on Hong Kong and Macao studies. Indeed, there are different perspectives within the Mainland academic community itself regarding matters related to Hong Kong. The editorial and possibly many people who live in Hong Kong seem to fail to acknowledge this. Thus, it is little wonder that they are worried that the discussion between the Mainland scholars and young people in Hong Kong will become “emotional” and unable to “discuss rationally”.


“One Country, Two Systems” is an inherently contradictory concept, and without the differences and contradictions between socialism and capitalism, there is no need for “One Country, Two Systems” at all. Therefore, both the people in the Mainland and in Hong Kong should be more open-minded when facing the challenges of our current problems.


The “One Country Two Systems Youth Forum” , which I founded, is a youth think tank that aims to promote dialogue between young people in the Mainland and in Hong Kong in regard to the practice and future of “One Country, Two Systems”. Instead of a group of Hong Kong people discussing this behind closed doors and then demanding that the Chief Executive “reflect their views to the central government”, we strongly believe that young people of both sides should directly engage with one another so that “One Country, Two Systems” policy might become a sustainable one with a prosperous future for all those involved.

From Henry Ho & Gordon Lam (ed.) A Debate of Two Systems, p.24

Original from:Forum page, Ming Pao.