The speech delivered by President Xi Jinping during the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1, 2021, had profound implications for the socio-economic and political development of the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions.
First and foremost, President Xi, who is also the Party’s General Secretary and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, emphasized that the CPC has led China to “fully establish a xiaokang(an affluent) society” and that it is keen to construct the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into a “socialist, modernized and powerful country in the second 100 years.” This is the “great honor” of not only the Chinese people but also the CCP.
President Xi harped on the theme of stressing Chinese nationalism, emphasizing that, with 5,000 years of civilization, China suffered from national humiliation after the 1840 Opium War. As such, the realization of the “Chinese renaissance” is the “greatest ideal of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.” President Xi invoked the historical nationalistic sentiment of the Chinese people by referring to how the Chinese people fought for their national survival, ranging from the Taiping rebellion to the Hundred Days reform, and from the Boxer rebellion to the 1911 revolution. Amid these difficult paths of modernization, the CPC emerged, thanks to the Sinification of Marxism-Leninism. He praised all the previous Chinese leaders who adapted Marxism to the Chinese circumstances, and who developed the CPC further, including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De and Chen Yun.
Ideologically, President Xi laid the emphases on the need to persist in the belief in Marxism-Leninism, the Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Developmentt, and and fully implement the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. He remarked that Chinese Marxism would have to be developed further in the 21stcentury.
On the role of the CPC, President Xi remarked that the Party realizes the Chinese renaissance, solidifies the Chinese people, liberates their thoughts, achieves the great success of the open-door policy and socialist modernization as well as construction. He said: “Without the CPC, there would not be the new China and there would not be the Chinese renaissance.” The CPC coordinates “all the interests of the nationalities” in the entire country. It has to persistently “elevate the standards of the Party’s scientific governance, democratic government, the implementation of law and the full development of the Party’s coordination and provision of core leadership.”
President Xi added that while the Party represents “the root interests of the people,” it does not represent any interest group or privileged stratum. As such, “any attempt to separate the CPC from the Chinese people and to make their relationships confrontational is bound to fail and is destined to be rejected by 95 million CPC members.”
President Xi stressed the importance of having a strong military to ensure national safety and security. The Party must lead and instruct the military, while China must insist on the path of strong military with Chinese characteristics.
On the other hand, China, according to President Xi, raises the flag of “peace, development, cooperation and mutual win-win situation” and adopts the foreign policy of “independence, autonomy and peace.” The PRC foreign policy is characterized by its peaceful developmental path and the construction of new international relations as well as “the construction of the common destiny of the mankind.” As such, the Belt and Road initiative can provide high-quality development and new opportunities for the world through China’s new developmental path.
Finally, President Xi stressed that to unify the Chinese people inside and outside China, the CPC must put its united front work on top of its agenda, consolidating all the forces and achieving the objective of the Chinese renaissance. To strive for success, the Party must inculcate a strong political consciousness of governing itself effectively and assertively by eradicating “all the viruses that erodes the health and skin of the CPC.” Under these circumstances, the Party “will by no means change its quality, color and taste,” while simultaneously becoming the “strong core leadership” in the path of developing Chinese-style socialism.
On the question of Hong Kong and Macau, President Xi stressed that we must “accurately implement the principles of ‘one country, two systems,’ ‘Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong,’ ‘Macau people governing Macau,” a high degree of autonomy and the central authorities’ comprehensive jurisdiction” over the two cities. Moreover, both Hong Kong and Macau must implement “the legal system and implementation mechanism of protecting [China’s] national security and national sovereignty, security, developmental interest and the long-term prosperity and stability” of the two places.
On Taiwan, President Xi said that solving Taiwan’s question and realizing national reunification are the historical mission of the CPC and the common hope of the Chinese people. However, the principles of one China and the “1992 consensus” must be maintained to promote national reunification. The Chinese people, according to President Xi, have to smash any separatist tendency in Taiwan. He said: “Anyone cannot underestimate the strong determination, persistent will and the strong capability of the Chinese people to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Overall, President Xi’s historical speech has profound implications for the socio-economic development of not only Hong Kong and Macau but also Taiwan.
First and foremost, with the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong in late June 2021, its full implementation is a must. As such, the people of Hong Kong must understand the meaning of the implementation of China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the special administrative region. It means that the Hong Kong people must support the CPC, appreciate its tremendous contribution to both China and the “one country, two systems,” and respect the central government’s national security, sovereignty and developmental interest.
Similarly, the people of Macau, who have already understood and fully respected China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction,” must protect the interests of the central government.
Macau’s situation is far more socially stable than Hong Kong, where the society was engulfed in instability and violence in the latter half of 2019. It can be anticipated that Article 23 of the Basic Law would likely be legislated and enacted in Hong Kong in the coming years, as the new Secretary for Security has recently mentioned. In February 2009, Macau’s Legislative Assembly had already legislated on the national security law.
Under the circumstances of fully protecting the national security interest of the central government, Hong Kong and Macau will be able to enjoy all the privileges, benefits and support from the motherland. The integration of Hong Kong and Macau into the Greater Bay Area is going to be accelerated and to bring more economic benefits and prosperity to the two cities in the coming years, especially when Covid-19 is under control and as it would fade away gradually.
On the issue of Taiwan, the central authorities have been consistently maintaining the principles of one China and the 1992 consensus. The challenge is whether the Taiwan authorities respect the bottom line of the PRC’s central authorities. Given the fact that the performance legitimacy of the current Taiwan administration is already undermined by the rapid spread of Covid-19 and its variants, it remains to be seen whether the Kuomintang (KMT) – the CPC’s long rival in the mainland until 1949 – would witness its resurgence before the 2024 Taiwan presidential election. If the KMT has the possibility of returning to power in Taiwan, another CPC-KMT cooperation would be not only a likelihood but also a potential breakthrough in the realization of President Xi’s vision of reunifying Taiwan in the coming years. In other words, the dynamic interactions between the PRC and the Taiwan authorities, especially the KMT elites, will be the most important indicator of how the CPC would try to achieve its unfulfilled mission.
In conclusion, the historical speech delivered by the CPC’s General Secretary and PRC President Xi Jinping has significant political implications for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. As the CPC is entering its second 100 years, the maintenance of the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau on the one hand and the mission of reunifying Taiwan on the other hand will be put high on the agenda of the Party, because the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s hope that the “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong and Macau would provide a framework for China to reunify Taiwan remains an unfulfilled mission.