The outgoing president of the Legislative Council, Tsang Yok-sing, has warned that Hong Kong is running out of time to secure its future by ensuring the success of One Country Two Systems.
In an interview with RTHK’s Maggie Ho and Michael Weeks, the pro-Beijing stalwart admitted that so far, the One Country Two Systems experiment has not gone as well as intended.
“Perhaps, in the very first beginning, we were a bit too simple, too naïve. We thought that things would be fine, if only we could manage to keep the original Hong Kong system unchanged… Maybe we should take a hard look at what we have been doing, at the system we now have, and find out how we can catch up with the times,” he said.
Tsang said he believes the next one or two administrations will be crucial in bringing things back on track, and One Country, Two Systems cannot be called a success unless universal suffrage is realised in Hong Kong.
However, the government has already failed at that once – in 2015 – when Legco voted down its reform package which would essentially have allowed Beijing to vet all candidates for Chief Executive.
That failure, Tsang said, also widened the gap between some people here, and the central government in Beijing.
With Hong Kong already 19 years into this unprecedented political experiment, Tsang concedes that “time is running out” for the government to right the ship. One Country Two Systems is only promised for 50 years after the handover.
Tsang appealed on all sides to set their differences aside and resume talks on the constitutional changes required for Hong Kong to achieve universal suffrage.
“Definitely, the government should take the lead. But, at the same time… how does the expression go? It takes two to tango,” he said.
“I can’t see any reason why either side would refuse communication. It’s so obvious, that any rational mind can see that… any rational person can see that, there are simply so many contradictions that have to be resolved in One Country Two Systems.”
At the same time, Tsang said it’s also essential for Beijing to make good on its original promise to uphold One Country, Two Systems for the SAR.
On that score, the Legco President cited state leader Zhang Dejiang’s appeal to the public not to forget the original intention of One Country Two Systems during his visit to the territory in May.
“I hope that the central government was also telling itself, look, we should not forget our original intentions – that is – to keep the Hong Kong system… the system existing before the handover, intact. And, that is much more valuable to China than otherwise, right?” Tsang said.
But despite all the challenges that appear to be in the way, Tsang is optimistic that the tide will eventually turn.
“I’m always an optimist in the long run… History must move forward. Sooner or later people will come to their senses and say, ‘oh, we have to do something positive.'”