One Country: the origin, the root
4 December 2021
December 4 marks the national Constitution Day. To deepen public understanding of the constitutional basis of Hong Kong, the HKSAR Government has organised the Constitution Day Seminar for today. This is the fifth year that a promotional event for the Constitution Day is being held in the HKSAR. The seminar, with the theme “The Constitution and ‘One Country, Two Systems’” and the aim of promoting awareness and the spirit of the Constitution in the community, will look into the relationship between the Constitution and the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and explore ways to better implement the latter in Hong Kong under the framework of the former. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government for co-organising this seminar with the HKSAR Government, and my thanks to the Endeavour Education Centre for being the supporting organisation.
Now is an opportune time to refresh our memories and learn something new. In brief, let me share a few points below:
The Constitution is a fundamental manifestation of “One Country”
The Constitution is the fundamental law of the state. Being the basis and framework for making other laws, it has the highest legal status, legal effect and legal authority, and the scope of its validity extends to all domains across the country. As an inalienable part of the motherland, the HKSAR is under the sovereignty of China and within the confines of the country’s constitutional system. The application of the Constitution to Hong Kong is hence a tangible manifestation of the sovereignty of “One Country”.
The Constitution is the root and origin of the Basic Law and “One Country, Two Systems”
Tracing to its source, we will see that the establishment of the HKSAR stemmed from Article 31 of the Constitution, which stipulates that “the state may establish special administrative regions when necessary”. The formulation of the Basic Law and the “One Country, Two Systems” principle were also based on the Constitution. Likewise, the capitalist system and way of life practised in the HKSAR are enshrined in the Basic Law, which was enacted under the Constitution. It can be said that without the authorisation of the Constitution, the Basic Law, the establishment of the HKSAR and “One Country, Two Systems” would not have existed.
Constitutional basis and fundamental safeguard
The Constitution has not only established the constitutional order of our country, but also provided the legislative backing and source of validity for the formulation of the Basic Law, which ensures smooth implementation of the basic policies of our country regarding Hong Kong. Both the Constitution and the Basic Law form the constitutional basis of the HKSAR and provide fundamental safeguard for Hong Kong’s prosperity and long-term stability.
Staying true to the original aspiration for “One Country, Two Systems”
Over the past two years, Hong Kong has encountered unprecedented political challenges. Anti-China disruptors who advocated “Hong Kong independence”, resisted the governance of the Central Authorities and blatantly colluded with external elements to create social unrest emerged. What they did threatened the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and challenged the authority of the Constitution and the Basic Law, severely jeopardising the governance and constitutional order of the HKSAR and even imperilling national sovereignty and security.
In view of the above situation, the Central Government dealt a double blow to these anti-China disruptors, first by promulgating and implementing the Hong Kong National Security Law, then by improving the electoral system of the HKSAR to ensure “patriots administering Hong Kong”. These measures have unveiled a new journey for Hong Kong to restore order from chaos and strive towards greater prosperity. All along, the Central Government has continued to act in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law and adhere to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, staying unswervingly true to the original aspiration for upholding “One Country, Two Systems” and showing firm confidence in the Constitution and the Basic Law system.
Restore the right order through enhanced education
I must sternly denounce the anti-China disruptors for disseminating specious, nonsensical and misleading ideas in an attempt to resist “One Country” with “Two Systems” in the past few years. The HKSAR Government will absolutely not allow these ideas to take root, but rather restore the right order and get our society back on track under “One Country, Two Systems”.
I am grateful to the Central Government for supporting Hong Kong and Macao, as expressly stated in the National 14th Five-Year Plan, to strengthen education on the Constitution, the Basic Law and national development, and enhance national awareness and patriotism among Hong Kong and Macao people. To this end, the HKSAR Government will, through multiple channels, provide the public with a comprehensive, accurate and in-depth understanding of the Constitution, the Basic Law and the constitutional order enshrined therein, with emphasis placed on the importance of “One Country” and the fact that ”One Country” is the root and origin.
First of all, I will lead the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee to take forward, in collaboration with relevant bureaux of the HKSAR Government, publicity and educational work on the Constitution and the Basic Law. In particular, promotional initiatives targeting public officers, teachers and students will be more comprehensive, in-depth and bespoke.
Civil service training: Training for civil servants on the national Constitution, the Basic Law and the Hong Kong National Security Law will be strengthened, and the Basic Law Test in civil service recruitment will be reviewed. With the establishment of the Civil Service College by the end of this year, we will establish a more systematic training framework and designate training programmes mandatory for civil servants at all levels, so as to enhance their understanding of the country’s development and the HKSAR’s constitutional order.
Student education: The school curriculum will be optimised by introducing Citizenship and Social Development starting from Secondary Four. One of the themes of this subject is “Hong Kong under ‘One Country, Two Systems’”, which mainly explains the relationship between the country and the HKSAR since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. It seeks to help students grasp the essence of “One Country, Two Systems” and the constitutional basis founded upon the Constitution and the Basic Law. It also aims to enhance their understanding of the latest development of the country for cultivating a sense of national identity.
Teacher training: Students will be enlightened only when their teachers have properly understood the Constitution and the Basic Law. The Education Bureau has developed the “Constitution and Basic Law Knowledge Enrichment Online Course for Primary School Teachers” which covers key concepts of the Constitution and the Basic Law, historical background of “One Country, Two Systems”, as well as the drafting process, constitutional basis and structure of the Basic Law. In addition to ongoing enhancement of teacher training, newly-appointed teachers of public sector schools will be required to pass the Basic Law Test starting from the next school year.
Today’s Constitution Day Seminar presents an excellent opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Constitution. I encourage everyone to watch the seminar on TV and via live webcast. It will also be available for viewing on the Government’s website.
The Legislative Council Election will be held in about two weeks’ time on December 19. It will be an important milestone in the implementation of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. I urge all electors to cast their votes to elect Legislative Council Members who value people’s livelihood, development and constructive input. Together, we will contribute to Hong Kong’s bright future and scale new heights for the advancement of this city.