Xi Jinping delivers a report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on behalf of the 19th CPC Central Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 16, 2022. The 20th CPC National Congress opened on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]
The report delivered by Xi Jinping on Sunday at the opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing came at a pivotal point in China's history — a year after the CPC commemorated the 100 anniversary of its founding, three years after the People's Republic of China celebrated its 70th birthday, and 10 years after Xi took the leadership reins in 2012 and ushered in a new era of development for China.
With a great sense of history, keen awareness of the great changes occurring in the international environment and firm belief in China's ability to overcome new challenges, Xi recounted the Party's achievements and laid out, in 15 parts of his report, the key areas of work on which the Party would focus in the coming years.
Building durable institutions for future development is the inescapable mission of any farsighted leader. As the ideological fountainhead of China in the new era, Xi provided strong guidance by highlighting the Party's success in building a socialist system imbued with strong Chinese cultural characteristics. This system, which has evolved over the years under the Party's leadership, provides a firm foundation for the continuous, healthy development of the nation.
A new element of Xi's ideology, in response to the ongoing international debate on the future of Western electoral democracy, is the concept of "whole-process people's democracy".
Many scholars of Western democracy have warned about the impending crisis of democracy. Having reviewed the challenges facing Western electoral democracies and the great benefits that China's system has brought to the people, Xi pointed out that China's democratic model, which permits balanced and orderly participation in governance by the people, consultation with the people, policymaking based on the broadest interests of the people, and supervision of the Party's performance by the people, represents the best possible arrangement for China.
Such a model provides much food for thought for Hong Kong's leaders, who have experienced firsthand the debilitating effects of a model of governance based on short-term electoral interests and polarizing positions.
For the first time, Xi devoted an entire division of his report to highlighting the importance of "one country, two systems".
Hong Kong clearly has a special place in Xi's heart, as he has said more than once during his inspection tour of Hong Kong.
He noted that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had undergone a period of great change and turbulence. But the central authorities' exercise of overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong, in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, managed to turn the tables and restore order in Hong Kong.
Xi applauded "one country, two systems" as a great achievement of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. He affirmed the principle of "the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong and the people of Macao administer Macao" and a high level of autonomy for the two special administrative regions. The "patriots only "model of governance will ensure long-term stability. It is particularly encouraging to note Xi's pledge to help the two regions resolve the deep-rooted and conflictual problems encountered in the course of their development.
Xi's report provides ample lessons and inspiration for Hong Kong. I am particularly impressed by the emphasis on education and technology as the key measures to raise China to new heights. Talent is the nation's greatest asset, and technology is the greatest driver of innovation, productivity and growth. Education must focus on cultivating the moral qualities of the people and strengthening the developmental potential of the nation.
Hong Kong has much to learn from the importance attached to education, technology and talent development. The opportunity given to Hong Kong to select payload specialists to join the national space program is part and parcel of the nationwide drive to promote science and technology. We should highly treasure our chance to be part of the national team.
In spite of high hopes for China's future and strong confidence in the nation's ability to overcome new challenges, Xi also cautioned us not to be complacent. Right from the start of his report, he indicated that the Party leadership is formulating strategies to unite the people and address effectively a "perilous and complex international environment" and the "impending challenge of high risk".
Xi's words are a rallying call for the nation to be vigilant and tough in facing challenges. "Not lying flat" in fighting COVID-19, and opposing vehemently interventionist forces standing in the way of reunification with Taiwan are all part of this strategy.
The residents of Hong Kong, which has long enjoyed the highest standard of living as the most prosperous part of China, sometimes overlook threats on the horizon and forget that we have to earn our living through hard work. Xi's thoughtful reminder is timely advice that we should all heed.
Xi's report ended on the high note that China will continue to promote global peaceful development, and a common destiny for the whole of mankind. Part 14 aptly sums up our nation's worldview — unswerving commitment to the maintenance of world peace, support for continuous opening, multilateralism and globalization, and active participation in international bodies to improve global governance.
Xi reiterated that China opposes a Cold War mentality, bullying and coercive methods, double standards and hegemony. All this provides clear guidance to Hong Kong on ways to handle its external relations.
Finally, Xi stressed the importance of maintaining tough Party discipline and governance. Hong Kong should work closely with the central authorities in reforming and reshaping the civil service. As Xi pointed out, public service needs talented people of high moral standards and loyalty.
China is a great nation with a great sense of responsibility to its people and the world. Hong Kong should share the same sense of mission and reinvigorate its public service to perform to the highest standard and respond to the call of history.
The author is convener of the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and a member of the SAR's Legislative Council.