Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that Hong Kong and Macau had “unique and irreplaceable” role in the success of China’s reforms over the past 40 years. Xi said the Special Administrative Regions will still retain their special status and advantages in the country’s future development.

Xi has been hosting over 160 delegates from Hong Kong and 60 from Macau in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up policy.

In a  six-minute public speech, Xi said China will never forget contributions made by their Hong Kong and Macau compatriots, as well as the foreign enterprises in both cities.

From left: Fernando Chui, Carrie Lam, Xi Jinping, Han Zheng, Ding Xuexiang. Photo: GovHK.

“In reform and opening up, the status of Hong Kong and Macau has been unique, the contribution made by Hong Kong and Macau compatriots was enormous, and their roles have been irreplaceable,” he said.

He added that Hong Kong and Macau will still provide irreplaceable advantages when it comes to the country’s future.

“I hope Hong Kong and Macau compatriots will keep their true patriotic passion, their innovative spirit, to participate in the reform and opening up of the country,” he said. He said that they should seize the opportunities provided by the “Belt and Road” and “Greater Bay Area” initiatives.

Xi Jinping with Hong Kong and Macau delegation. Photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong should continue contributing to the country.

“I am very optimistic about Hong Kong’s future in traditional and news industries,” she said.

‘Assemble all sectors’

Veteran China affairs commentator Johnny Lau told RTHK that Xi praised Hong Kong because of the city’s importance: “Under the China-US trade war, the mainland needs Hong Kong as an open door in terms of macro and microeconomics,” he said. “As China’s economy is becoming internationalised, Hong Kong is still an important part. Now, Beijing needs to assemble all sectors of Hong Kong, like the contribution of Hong Kong’s business sector to the mainland.”

But Lau noted that Beijing does not consider Hong Kong to be as important as it was in the 1980s: “[Beijing] will stress that Hong Kong should coordinate with the mainland in its development.”

Carrie Lam (middle). Photo: GovHK.

Some members of the delegation have said that Xi mentioned national security issues during his speeches.

Asked if Xi hinted at enacting a national security law in Hong Kong, Lam said she did not hear Xi mention the specific topic.

But she said it was Hong Kong’s responsibility to maintain national security, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of China, and that there ere was no need for over-interpretations.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.