Mr CH Tung’s Speaking Notes for 5 May 2020
Launch Ceremony of Hong Kong Coalition
Fellow citizens of Hong Kong, friends of the media, Welcome!
Having suffered from a double blow of disturbance from the protest movement against the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Ordinance and from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong is at a very critical moment. For all those who love Hong Kong and call this city home, Hong Kong simply cannot move forward on this path.
Today’s event is particularly meaningful because many people of insight recognize the need for Hong Kong to start afresh. And people of Hong Kong need to come together to ride out of the current predicament. Today marks the official launch of “Hong Kong Coalition.” The Coalition’s goal is to mobilize the strength and wisdom of all Hong Kong people to unleash the potential of “One Country, Two Systems,” reinvigorate the city’s economy, re-embrace the rule of law, and build a stable and prosperous Hong Kong together.
Ridden with Risks amid Domestic & Global Troubles
As I said, Hong Kong is at a critical moment. Indeed, Hong Kong needs to overcome three major crises facing the city.
First, it is the pandemic: Through the months-long efforts of 7.5 million people, Hong Kong has made noticeable progress in containing the spread of the virus. However, the risks remain. To date, COVID-19 has infected more than 3.5 million people and caused 240,000 deaths worldwide. And international experts have warned about the possibility of a resurge. With the crisis not yet over and in the absence of vaccines, we must stay vigilant and do everything we can to safeguard the health of the people in Hong Kong.
Second, it is the economic crisis following the pandemic. The Hong Kong government has announced a negative growth of 8.9% for the first quarter of 2020. In the first three months, the city's unemployment rose to the highest level in nine years. In the hard-hit retail industry, 96% of establishments have recorded losses. The industry expects that one out of every four stores will be closed by the end of the year...all of these are only the first wave of a significant economic slowdown. What's more distressing is, Hong Kong will be facing an enormous economic risk, triggered by a sharp economic decline in the US and Europe on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Third, it is the political crisis: The protest movement against the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Ordinance, which lasted for nearly a year, has shattered the community. Under the opposition’s unscrupulous tactics of “mutual destruction,” violent protestors have vandalized at will, attacked police officers with firebombs, and even manufactured weapons of mass destruction including remote-controlled explosive devices. Their unduly behaviour are meant to harm Hong Kong's overall interest, push Hong Kong over a cliff, and destroy its future.
Violent protestors have repeatedly and maliciously insulted our motherland by scrawling on the national emblem, burning the national flag, mutilating signs of national mottos and displaying slogans for "Hong Kong Independence." Legislators of the opposition party have abusively filibustered in the Legislative Council to delay legislations that aim to revive the economy, protect job security and support the anti-pandemic relief efforts. They have caused undue disruption in the Legislative Council and severe damage to the governance of the HKSAR government.
More worrying is that Hong Kong has been drawn into the battleground of international politics. For more than half a year, under the pretext of "democracy" and "human rights," external forces have instigated violent crimes intended to undermine Hong Kong’s stability and China’s peaceful development. More outrageous is how some people of the opposition begged for the US to interfere in China’s domestic affairs and impose sanctions on Hong Kong. These are serious violations against the spirit of the Basic Law and the principle of “One Country, Two Systems.”
Today, more than ever, Hong Kong needs to come together; it needs robust policy initiatives by the government; it needs the brightest professionals to share their wisdom; it needs everyone in society to help turn the tide and revive Hong Kong!
Believe in Hong Kong, Believe in China
Hong Kong has endured wars, hurricanes, plagues, riots, refugee influx, financial turmoil and many other challenges...Every single time during these crises, I was told that Hong Kong would not survive; but we always came out on top of every challenge stronger, rendering Hong Kong more united and prosperous. Why is that?
The people of Hong Kong are dedicated, trustworthy, hardworking, and they never give up. Our rule of law, probity and diversity are some of the traits that enable us to rise above any challenge. The most precious and essential among these traits is “One Country, Two Systems” that is unique to Hong Kong upon the Handover in 1997.
“One Country, Two Systems” is Hong Kong’s largest advantage; China is Hong Kong’s strongest support; and the Reform and Opening-up of the Mainland is Hong Kong’s greatest development platform. We should never forget that: during the 1998 Asian financial crisis, the Central People’s Government reassured that Hong Kong's prosperity and stability would be maintained at all costs; immediately after the 2003 SARS pandemic, the central government launched the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) for Hong Kong to achieve a swift economic recovery; following the 2008 financial tsunami, Hong Kong was immensely benefitted from the development of RMB cross-border settlement and other business opportunities in the financial sector, such as the “Shanghai-HK Stock Connect” and “Shenzhen-HK Stock Connect.” With the national initiatives of “Belt & Road” and “Greater Bay Area,” I am confident that Hong Kong will be able to capture unparalleled development opportunities.
In addition, China has become the world’s leading industrial power and largest goods-trading nation, improving the living standard of 1.4 billion people. Today, China is actively involved in combating global climate change and in UN peacekeeping missions; it is playing a key role in building a “community of shared future for mankind.” In fighting the coronavirus, China has won a battle by containing the spread, buying precious time for the global community, and providing different countries with medical supplies and experiences.
From nation-building to anti-pandemic measures, the 1.4 billion people of China have exemplified the spirit of helping others in times of need, demonstrated the edge of China’s governance system and showcased the era of a “responsible stakeholder.” As Chinese, we should be proud!
“One Country, Two Systems” Stays Unchanged
I’d like for us to think for a moment: In the 20-plus years since the Handover, Hong Kong’s competitive edge remained strong. Internationally, not only has Hong Kong’s status as a financial, transportation and trading hub never changed, but the city is poised to be an international center for innovation and technology. Hong Kong is also ranked by leading global institutions as being among the best in terms of freedom, governance, justice and academics. In a new phase of Reform and Opening-up in the Mainland, Hong Kong still carries a unique status and advantage. On the path of China going global, Hong Kong’s role will only strengthen and not weaken.
As far as autonomy is concerned, Hong Kong’s rights to final adjudication, currency issuance and participation in global affairs are all protected by the Basic Law. Are any of the freedoms that Hong Kong currently enjoys in terms of assembly, speech, the press, publication, association, trade and travel any less than they were before the Handover?
In fact, the Central People’s Government has always kept to the spirit of "One Country, Two Systems" without reservation. Recent polls have shown that a large majority in Hong Kong, notwithstanding their different political ideology, support “One Country, Two Systems.” We need to treasure “One Country, Two Systems” as the genuine “consensus of Hong Kong.”
Building Hong Kong Together with Consensus
I am pleased to see that in the past few months, the SAR Government has demonstrated determination and courage in containing the pandemic and supporting the economy. The government has successfully led the fight against the spread of coronavirus while launching a series of popular support measures.
At the same time, I’m most impressed and touched by the dedication of public servants and medical staff, the willingness among employers and employees to stick together through tough times, and the professionalism of the police force committed to diligently protecting the law and order of society. Our frontline staff deserve our applause for their selfless contribution.
In the coming days and months, I hope more people with experience and capabilities will join us at the Coalition. By gathering the strengths of society, we fight the pandemic as well as violence, promote people’s livelihood, secure employment and support the economy. We need to focus on youth’s future; we must try our hardest to nurture our future generations. And we have much work to do in driving sustainable development and tackling social issues including the housing shortage and wealth disparity. These important initiatives are all essential building blocks in opening a new chapter for Hong Kong.
Time to Act in a Critical Moment
Today, Hong Kong is at a crossroads. As our Manifesto states: “Everyone in Hong Kong should think about whether to continue the path of confrontation, self-destruction, disintegration and squandered opportunity? Or, turn to unity by working together and finding a way to resolve the predicament?”
Fellow citizens of Hong Kong, the idea behind the Coalition is to find a direction for Hong Kong and get things done. Regardless of your background, your faith, your political ideology, for the benefits of our society and the future of our city, for the well-being of our community and the healthy development of our youth, for the continuity of “One Country, Two Systems,” I plead for a rational, pragmatic and inclusive way to put aside our differences and unite for economic development, improvement of people’s livelihood and getting back on track to thrive once again.
We live in an era of great significance and we’ve been entrusted with an important mission. As such, we must make a wise choice: that is, say no to violence, vandalism, social divide and mutual destruction!
We must choose the rule of law, unity, development, peace and harmony, prosperity and stability!
We must resolutely choose to revive Hong Kong and let the Pearl of the Orient shine as brightly as ever!