Wang Zhimin, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, delivered a keynote speech on the opening day of the 2017 Boao Youth Forum for Asia in Hong Kong on Nov 2. The following is the English translation of his speech (full text).
New journey begins for HK youths to realize the Chinese Dream
The Honorable Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Mr Leung Chun-ying, the honorable former prime minister of Pakistan Mr Shaukat Aziz, and the honorable Secretary General of Boao Forum for Asia Mr Zhou Wenzhong,
Distinguished guests and young friends:
Good morning, everybody! I am very pleased to attend the Boao Youth Forum for Asia. Let me begin by offering on behalf of the Liaison Office our warm congratulations to the forum on its successful opening!
Many friends here know that I was involved some years back in making plans for “bringing Boao Forum to Hong Kong and to the young people”. I wanted to “bring Boao Forum to Hong Kong” because I worked here and have deep feelings about Hong Kong; and I wanted to “bring Boao Forum to the young people” because I worked on youth affairs, have a young heart and especially because young people not only represent the future and hope but also constitute the most energetic force in driving social development forward with the advancing times. That is why many friends believe I have “feelings for Hong Kong” and “a strong bond with young people”. I believe my “deep feelings for Hong Kong” and “strong bond with young people” all come down to the conclusion that “young people do well when Hong Kong does well and Hong Kong does even better when young people do better”. That is also my best wish for everyone present here.
Young people are often likened to the morning sun and remind us of robust development. Earlier this month the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China left its triumphant mark in the history books. General Secretary Xi Jinping told Chinese and foreign media the CPC will mark its centenary on July 1, 2021. He said: “For the Party, which fights for the eternal well-being of the Chinese nation, the centenary only ushers in the prime of its life.” Indeed, as the political party responsible for “bringing happiness to the Chinese people and pursuing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, the CPC has grown stronger in the past 96 years since its founding in 1921 and has been accumulating, keeping and exerting great cohesive power, creativity, fighting power, leadership and influence. As a representative to the 19th National Congress I am more than happy to take this opportunity to share with you the great achievements of the largest political party in the world at its latest epic meeting, with its glorious youth and magnificent development no less.
General Secretary Xi Jinping said: “As the largest political party in the world the CPC must behave in a way commensurate with this status.” As a member of the CPC and “veteran young man” I’d like to share with all of you my understanding of what “match its size with great performance” means.
First up is “big democracy and big characteristics”. The 2,280 delegates at the 19th National Congress of the CPC were returned through the selection process of nomination and voting as prescribed in the CPC Constitution by more than 4.5 million grassroots units and 89 million Party members throughout the country. The new CPC Central Committee and Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection were returned by all delegates by secret ballot. General Secretary Xi’s report was finalized after going through several rounds of consultation among members of the Central Committee and provincial committees as well as experts outside the Party to flesh it out with the broadest possible wisdom of the nation. To complete the 21 important research projects in practice as well as theory assigned by the Central Committee, 59 departments and units formed 80 research groups, which visited 1,817 grassroots locations around the country and organized 1,501 forums and seminars to investigate and examine for facts as well as opinions from 21,532 individual respondents, resulting in 80 research papers for the Central Committee. In the meantime, 25 top State think tanks and pilot research units presented 65 research papers of their own for the central leadership’s reference. Even more suggestions were collected from over 4,700 people representing departments in many regions and sectors in 118 sets of written feedback. And based on all those materials a total of 2,027 separate changes were suggested for the drafts and final version of the report. It is safe to say Xi’s report to the 19th Party Congress is the sum of the whole Party’s collective wisdom, the answer to the people’s expectations, of guiding significance to our national development and of profound and broad influence to the international community. That is the power of “big democracy”.
Second is great confidence and great aura. Some say there is no other political party in the world that could pull off a worldwide live broadcast of the entire proceedings of their national congress that produces the new leadership. During the 19th congress, six news conferences were held, three more than at the 18th congress, not to say holding for the first-time eight sessions of pool coverage, first-ever post-congress press conference, and the first WeChat public account for the congress. The openness and transparency showcased during the 19th Party Congress reflected the poise and self-confidence of the CPC. That was embodied especially in the dedication of a delegate passageway inside the Great Hall of the People, where CPC delegates from different places, occupations, ethnic minorities and age groups took questions from the media with ease and confidence. Even delegates from Taiwan responded to queries with calmness and smiles. It is said that the Lu Li’an phenomenon is brewing as some Taiwan students in Peking University have declared their intention to join the CPC. That certainly is a reflection of the world’s biggest political party’s confidence in its beliefs and organization skills, which one could easily feel at the 19th congress.
Such self-confidence was fully embodied in the report by General Secretary Xi, epitomizing our confidence in future development. It is believed that many people who watched Xi delivering his report were deeply impressed by the frequent rounds of hearty applause, and the emotional impact on me in situ was even stronger. Xi’s emboldened remarks triggered applause that represented resonance and self-confidence. According to media’s estimates, there were 71 rounds of ovation, the longest duration reaching 16 seconds. Since many of them erupted in the middle of a sentence, Xi had to stop and wait for the applause to subside before he could resume his address. That shows that the report, having been prepared by the process of great democracy, addressed people’s desire and key concerns and expectations at the bottom of their hearts. The most frequent spree of applauses – seven times – came during the part about “one country, two systems”, an unambiguous display of the delegates’ passionate concern and strong resonance over the “one country, two systems” venture. From that came the great confidence, which in turn arose from great beliefs and hence the great aura.
Third is great influence and grand setup. The congress attracted such worldwide attention that some foreign media described the event as being held with a world map as the backdrop. Covering the congress were 3,068 local and foreign reporters, including 1,818 from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as 134 foreign countries. These figures had broken all past records. During the congress, 454 political parties from 165 countries sent over 1,340 congratulatory messages, among which 800 were from heads of states, governments, political parties or key organizations. Russian President Vladimir Putin felt that Xi’s report and the discussions surrounding it had displayed the strenuous efforts China had undertaken to face future development, and that China had undoubtedly become the driving engine of the world economy. United States President Donald Trump also sent a special message to Xi, saying that the 19th congress had caught the eyeballs of the world and he would pay special attention to the significant political messages Xi would deliver in the course of the congress. All these vivid and specific comments were by no means general diplomatic language. They represented the profound respect the heads of different countries and major political parties paid to the CPC, being the world’s biggest political party, and General Secretary Xi, as core leader of the biggest ruling party and a world-class leader.
Just as the Financial Times of the United Kingdom and Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore have said, the congress was a mammoth event that would change the global situation and influence the future course of regional and global political and economic developments. Hence, this “big influence” was “big” because of the great leader and grand setup.
Many friends are now are asking and searching for an answer to the question why China can and why the CPC can. Here the most important thing is our political advantage, also known as China’s path. China’s system advantage lies in the CPC’s leadership. Well-known Singaporean scholar Zheng Yongnian once said: “The CPC is not only a ruling party but also a party on a mission.” China’s “order” has been sharply contrasted by “chaos” in the West in recent years and the primary reason why China has “order” is that the CPC, as a weathered ruling party, represents the fundamental interests of the absolute majority of the Chinese nation and is ultimately responsible for the rise or fall of the Chinese civilization. A foreign media outlet observed that political parties in Western countries can be described as constantly fighting one another like boxers; while China’s is running a relay race. Many people are aware that the succession of the CPC leadership always happens in the years XXX2 and XXX7; while the central government leadership succession takes place in XXX3 and XXX8; and the sequential Five-Year National Development Program begins in XXX1 and XXX6 chronologically. This systematic arrangement is unique to China and ensures continuation of CPC leadership and State governance, with a national development blueprint updated every five years. That is why China has accomplished so much and changed so much in past 39 years or so since the reform and opening-up began, thanks to our unique system advantage. I think the report General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered to the 19th National Congress of the CPC gives the most authoritative and elaborate answer to the question why China can and why the CPC can. It is the culmination of Chinese wisdom, a systematic presentation of the Chinese solution and the compass for China’s future development. Here I’d like to share with everyone my understanding and reflection of Xi’s report in three parts.
The first is New Era and New Thought. The report lists “10 great achievements” to summarize the historical changes resulting from all the hard work in the past five years and thoroughly analyzes nearly 40 years of reform and opening, with the conclusion that our country’s comprehensive national strength is now one of the strongest in the world and has elevated the nation’s international status to a new level. It means the pursuit of socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, having experienced so much hardship in modern times to finally stand on its own feet, build up a better life and arrive at the threshold of brighter future for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It also means scientific socialism is more vibrant in the 21st century than ever, thanks to China’s socialism with Chinese characteristics, which proves scientific socialism is very much alive after the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe fell by the wayside as a result of abandoning Marxism and Leninism. And it means the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics has expanded the path for developing nations to achieve modernization without losing independence with Chinese wisdom and “the China solution”. China’s success in “choosing its own path” of fast development shows the world modernization does not necessarily equal westernization.
The “New Era” is real, vivid and tangible because we are all witnesses who are experiencing and sharing its reward. There are many highlights and concrete achievements but I will list just a few examples as follows: According to some media, Xi’s report uses the term “the people” more than 200 times. As the second-largest economy in the world with its gross domestic product reaching around $12 trillion last year, China has actually succeeded in benefiting 1.3 billion people with the fruit of economic development. In the past five years more than 1,500 reform measures have been implemented in areas such as finance and taxation, technology and innovation, individual income and distribution of wealth, and so on, all of which propelled the increase of urban residents’ income to surpass the nation’s growth rate, with more than 60 million people pulled out of abject poverty steadily, while nearly 70 million urban residents found jobs in that period of time. Now, where do nearly 60 million people stand in demographic terms? In today’s world only 23 countries have populations of 60 million or more. That means China has helped more people out of poverty than the population of the great majority of countries. This fact is convincing enough for every Chinese person and especially the young people here to feel extremely proud and confident. I’d also like to bring everybody’s attention to the following critical political conclusion mentioned in the report – the main contradiction of China’s society has transformed to one between the people's ever-growing needs for a better life and unbalanced and inadequate development. This means, in the new era, China needs to advance all aspects of democracy, rule of law, fairness, justice, security and environment. And those keywords should sound quite familiar to Hong Kong youths, because they are pursuing them as well. In future China will be a frontrunner in these respects. And satisfying the people’s demand for better life is the CPC’s lifelong mission and responsibility. Of course it will benefit the whole nation, including Hong Kong society.
Another example can be found in the rising overall capability of our country in science and technology innovation in the past five years with a series of outstanding achievements as proof, such as the Tiangong 2 (Earth) orbital module, Jiaolong manned deep-sea probe, FAST (500 meter diameter spherical) radio telescope, Wukong (or the Monkey King) UV radiation observer satellite, Mo Zi quantum telecom experimental satellite and C919 large passenger aircraft. Numerous “Chinese highways”, “Chinese bridges”, “Chinese ports” and “Chinese networks” are also taking us closer to realizing the Chinese Dream. Recently many young people from 20 foreign countries along the ancient Silk Road and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road named the high-speed rail network, Alipay, bicycles-sharing system and online shopping as their “four great Chinese inventions” of the new era. That indicates those great achievements are reshaping the international society with profound influences. By mentioning science and innovation more than 60 times and setting the goal of becoming a frontrunner in innovation for the nation by the year 2035, Xi’s report has declared the acceleration of the nation’s pace of building a highly innovative country.
In just five short years the CPC and State have accomplished historic achievements and historic changes, ultimately because we have General Secretary Xi as the consummate leader at the helm. When he visited Hong Kong on July 1 this year many local residents saw what a great leader of the time he is and felt the strong resolve as well as the all-round appeal he exudes at the center of the leadership. It is the kind of powerful force capable of leading 1.3 billion Chinese people, including 7 million Hong Kong compatriots, to stay united and work as one. Every new era spawns new thinking; while practice generates theory. The top highlight of Xi’s report is the scientific summary of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era and its most outstanding contribution is making this the long-term guiding principle of the CPC. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era is a scientific and complete system of thought that covers areas such as reform, development, stability, domestic affairs, foreign relations, national defense and governance of the party, the country and the armed forces, providing all-encompassing guidance to the progress of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The fundamental strategy of “14 insistences” put forward in the report is the embodiment of the thought. The 19th Party Congress accomplished advancement with the times of the guiding thought of the CPC and marked another significant milestone in China’s development and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The second is a new goal and new journey. Every new era marks the start of a new journey. Xi’s report states that, upon achieving the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in 2020, the country will begin the next stage of all-round construction of a modern socialist country in two steps: one covers 2020 to 2035 and the other spans the following 15 years to 2050, during which we will build the country into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful socialist society.
This new goal and new journey update the timetable of the national development program. When the reform and opening-up drive began in the late 1970s, then State leader Mr Deng Xiaoping put forward a strategic plan for the country to achieve modernization in “three steps”: The first required the nation to double its per capita gross national product and basically keep everybody fed and warm in the following decade (the 1980s); the second step demanded the country double its per capita GNP once again by the end of the past century, when it would become a moderately prosperous society; the third step aimed to redouble the previous per capita GNP two-fold in the first half of the 21st century and become a moderately developed country by the end of 2050. With the first two steps achieved ahead of schedule, the 19th Party Congress decided to quicken the “third step” and achieve the moderately developed standard by the end of 2035 instead of 2050. This decision shows the CPC’s emphatic confidence born of hard work over 40 years of reform and opening-up and time-honored commitment toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The “new goals and new journey” also update the standard of a modernized country. The 19th Party Congress declared the goal of building a socialist modern country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of the century. That means the bar for a major power has been raised higher, with greater and more pleasant expectations as well as richer details. In addition to the “four modernizations” (of industry, agriculture, national defense and sci-tech development) the Party also aims to modernize the national governance system and government capabilities, hence the “fifth modernization” billing, also known as “system modernization”. By adding the adjectives of “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful” to the goal of building a modernized socialist country the 19th Party Congress has fully demonstrated the CPC’s deep understanding of the main contradictions of the Chinese society in the new era and strong determination to pursue the most wonderful values of mankind.
“New goals and new journey” also update the current philosophy of development. The previous strategic plan for modernization in “three steps” was measured by per capita GNP throughout. For example, the second step would double the per capita GNP achieved by the first; while the third step would double the per capita GNP of the second step two-fold. Now we have a new goal in two 15-year stages. It responds to new expectations of the people for national development going forward and has enriched the idea of higher-quality development for greater sense of accomplishment, happiness and security.
The third is new position and new opportunity. The 19th Party Congress has elevated “one country, two systems” to a component of fundamental national strategy, or the 12th of 14 designed to keep developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. According to Xi’s report, “maintaining lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao and achieving China’s full reunification are essential to realizing national rejuvenation. We must ensure both the central government’s overall jurisdiction over the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and a high degree of autonomy in the two regions. We should ensure that the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ remains unchanged, is unwaveringly upheld, and in practice is not bent or distorted.” After the Fourth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the CPC set for the first time “maintaining long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao” as an important subject for the CPC to address in governing the country under new circumstances, the 17th National Congress of the CPC elevated it higher to a “critical subject”; and the 18th National Congress of the CPC clarified the “fundamental purpose” of “one country, two systems” is to “safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests”. Now the 19th National Congress of the CPC has made “one country, two systems” a basic principle for the Party and State. This has been a strategic progression in chronological order, from which we can sense Hong Kong’s new position in the national governance system after China resumed sovereign rule over the region. From that progression we can also sense the exercise of “one country, two systems” has achieved new development and new position in the overall strategy of the Party and State as well as in the process of pursuing national reunification. It also echoes General Secretary Xi’s advice for Hong Kong during his visit on July 1: “We must not only build up the socialist mainland well but also build up the capitalist Hong Kong well.” Both constitute a new mission and higher political requirement for the exercise of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong as well as giving the younger generation a greater and more sacred historical responsibility.
Xi also emphasizes in the report that maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao is a natural requirement in order to achieve the great reunification of the Chinese nation. That tells us our attention should not be limited to the parts about Hong Kong and Macao in Xi’s report; and we should also think about Hong Kong’s role and opportunities, even Hong Kong’s future and the young people’s future, in relation to the overall structure, strategy and vision of the whole report. It is particularly important to note that many strategic plans for the mainland spelled out in the report actually concern Hong Kong as well and will greatly benefit Hong Kong for sure. For example, the report requires “implementing new development philosophy and build up a modernized economic system”. This reminds me that Hong Kong boasts many specialties and advantages in building a modernized economy that will certainly let Hong Kong use its strengths and join the mainland in capitalizing on the great opportunity presented by the construction of a modernized economic system.
Another example can be found in the report concerning the Belt and Road Initiative, which says: “We should pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority, give equal emphasis to ‘bringing in’ and ‘going global’, follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration”. Our Hong Kong has played a very important role in the country’s efforts to ‘bring in’ and ‘go global’ in the past 39 years of reform and opening-up, and will surely play a greater role in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, developing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and internationalization of the renminbi. The report also points out: “We will grant more powers to pilot free-trade zones to conduct reform, and explore the opening of free-trade ports.” Hong Kong is already a very mature free port. Given the country’s enormous total economy and huge demand for foreign trade and services, there is no doubt that Hong Kong’s free-trade port will find more development opportunities and acquire new vitality.
Xi’s report at the 19th Party Congress emphasizes in particular: “We will continue to support the governments and chief executives of both regions in pursuing the following endeavors: exercising law-based governance, uniting and leading the people of all sectors in an active and concerted effort to promote development and harmony, ensuring and improving people’s well-being, taking well-ordered steps to advance democracy, maintaining law and order, and fulfilling the constitutional responsibility of safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.
“The development of Hong Kong and Macao is closely tied up with that of the mainland. We will continue to support Hong Kong and Macao in integrating their own development into the overall development of the country. We will give priority to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, and regional cooperation in the pan-Pearl River Delta, thus fully advancing mutually beneficial cooperation between the mainland and the two regions. We will formulate and improve policies and measures to make it more convenient for people from Hong Kong and Macao to develop careers on the mainland.”
People should have noticed the last sentence of the quote above is what Hong Kong residents have been looking forward to all these years, known in short as “national treatment”. While our country becomes prosperous and strong it is necessary to gradually grant Hong Kong compatriots national treatment, which should help push forward Hong Kong’s development and help bring them more happiness. And then there is the Greater Bay Area in this region, which should be a hotbed for young people to cultivate their careers, a bigger stage than people have seen before and a common home for all of us.
Hong Kong compatriots used to have a strong “sense of superiority” over the mainland in the past but now many people are worried about “marginalization of Hong Kong”, which is really unnecessary. As long as we firmly uphold the “one country” principle and make good use of the “two systems” advantage, Hong Kong compatriots and especially the young people should totally be able to build a career, form a family, start a business and make innovation in the new and much bigger common home we call the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and realize our own dreams. By then we will enjoy even greater sense of superiority and pride than we have felt ever before.
General Secretary Xi says in the report: “A nation will prosper only when its young people thrive; a country will be full of hope and have a great tomorrow only when its younger generations have ideals, ability and a strong sense of responsibility. The Chinese Dream is a dream about history, the present, and the future. It is a dream of our generation, but even more so, a dream of the younger generations. The Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation will be realized ultimately through the endeavors of young people, generation by generation.” Most of you in the audience are probably in your 20s and 30s. The next 30 years or so will be the most energetic, creative and capable period in your life as the Chinese nation marches forward in its new journey toward greatness. In today’s China there is a team of young engineers averaging 30 years of age doing research and development of airplanes, who are described by foreign colleagues as “the youngest brains in aircraft design”; another team of young engineers in their 30s are considered the future of super-conductor maglev technology; the mainstay of 5G telecom network technology development in Shenzhen is dominated by young people; a group of young scientists averaging 35 years of age has put China in the front of quantum physics and its applications in the world; our team of young genetic engineers aged 27 on average completed 50 percent of the human genome sequencing process; and one of our best ground control teams for space missions also boasts 30 years of age on average, who are the envy of foreign colleagues around the world. That is why so many people are fond of saying: “Awesome, my country; awesome, we young people!”
Young people are the future of our motherland and hope of our nation. They are Hong Kong’s future and hope as well. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her first Policy Address that the SAR government will “connect with young people” and do its best in the next five years in addressing their concerns about education, career pursuit and homeownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate, so that the younger generation will see hope and opportunities for upward mobility. Youth is best used for striving to be better. History is kind only to the determined, the fighter, the united and the achiever; and never waits for the hesitant, the procrastinator and the constant complainer. I hope my young friends in Hong Kong will never forget their original goal, align their personal development with that of the country, integrate their own dreams into the Chinese Dream and the nation’s dream, write their own chapters in the book of great achievements under the Lion Rock and add their fantastic life experience to the new pages of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the name of Hong Kong youths of this era for posterity to marvel at.
Before I finish, here’s wishing a great success for the youth forum! And best wishes for my young friends joining hands in kick-starting a new journey for Hong Kong and realizing the Chinese Dream!