HK is 'a remarkable achievement'

Updated: 2011-11-23 07:05

By Joseph Li (China Daily)

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HK is 'a remarkable achievement'

Chief Executive Donald Tsang talks to a China Daily reporter on Tuesday. Hong Kong's success has been recognized by the world, he said. Edmond Tang / China Daily

HONG KONG - The concept of "One Country, Two Systems" has succeeded remarkably well, exceeding all expectations for Hong Kong, Chief Executive Donald Tsang told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

"For someone like me, who served in government before and after 1997, it is a remarkable achievement, recognized by the rest of the world," Tsang said as he reflected on the city's progress since the 1997 handover.

"Many people, including myself, expressed concern whether this policy, introduced by late leader Deng Xiaoping, would work in Hong Kong," he said.

"It turns out to be a triple-win situation for Hong Kong, the country and the rest of the world. Hong Kong people have won, the country has won and the rest of the world has also won."

Tsang is entering the final months of his term as Hong Kong approaches the 15th anniversary of reunification on July 1, 2012. By that date Tsang will have completed his second term as chief executive.

Hong Kong has advanced noticeably on the political, economic and social fronts in recent years, he observed.

The electoral processes are far more democratic than before 1997, he said. More significantly, the National People's Congress has agreed on a timetable for universal suffrage for chief executive elections in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020.

"Things are moving on quite nicely, but of course they may not meet everybody's expectations," Tsang said. "If you look at it objectively, even the most critical commentators overseas have seen the advances we have made on the political front."

Economically, Hong Kong is obviously an international financial center serving the entire region, in terms of the size of its market, foreign investment and market infrastructure, he said.

The world has not fully recovered from the shock of the financial crisis that swept the globe in 2008, he noted, but Hong Kong has weathered the storm and remains attractive to foreign capital.

Foreign investors think Hong Kong is a profitable and safe place to invest, he said.

Tsang particularly cited the growth and importance of the renminbi market in Hong Kong.

"This year we are able to handle 1.5 trillion yuan ($236 billion) in trade settlements and renminbi balances kept by our banks hit 600 billion yuan. Remember, we started from humble beginnings three or four years ago," he said.

Hong Kong, as a testing ground, is doing a great deal for the final convertibility of the renminbi, he said.

On social services, Tsang said the special administrative region has developed a better system for elderly care.

Free education for 15 years is provided, with 12-year compulsory, and subsidized pre-school education, while a statutory minimum wage has been introduced to protect workers.