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Editorial : A tale of two cities that needs not have a sting in the tail

【明報專訊】IN Beijing, a symposium was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the implementation of Macao's Basic Law. Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, made a speech at that event. Though it focuses on Macao, his speech seems more for Hong Kong's consumption. Li also made it clear that the central authorities require the same of Hong Kong and Macao in certain areas and that "Hong Kong should also have a very good grasp of the central authorities' spirit".

As China and the US are in confrontation and the international situation has sharply changed, the central authorities are increasingly concerned that foreign forces may use "one country, two systems" (OCTS) in the two cities as a chink through which to effect penetration and subversion. As far as the central authorities are concerned, something bad has happened in Hong Kong. To prevent similar things from happening in Macao, they may tighten their risk control and set up more tangible and intangible "firewalls" so as to prevent factors of instability from spilling through Hong Kong or other channels into Macao and even the mainland. About the comprehensive, faithful and effective implementation of Macao's Basic Law, Li laid out four expectations: that the governance of Macao should be strictly in compliance with the Constitution and the Basic Law; that the overall power of administration of Macao and its high degree of autonomy should be exercised in accordance with the law; that the building of sufficient national security safeguards should be carried on; and that greater efforts should be made to promote the Constitution and the Basic Law. What he said is clearly what is demanded of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's independence is a castle in the air. The political reality is such that OCTS is still Hong Kong's only way out. As evidenced by the outbreak of the anti-amendment storm, something has gone wrong with the implementation of OCTS in Hong Kong. The central authorities deem it necessary to handle the relationship between "one country" and "two systems" properly so that their power of overall administration of the SARs and the latter's high degree of autonomy may be organically linked and effectively exercised within the OCTS framework. From Beijing's perspective, one may say Macao is the ideal model. However, Things in Macao are different from those in Hong Kong. OCTS with "Macao characteristics" might not be suitable for Hong Kong, and it might even be impossible for it to yield any of the desired effects.

Hong Kong and Macao were both western colonies, and both uphold OCTS. There is a world of difference between what the two have experienced. Their differences could easily overshadow their similarities. In Macao, the leftists notched up an outright victory in the 1966 anti-colonial struggle and seized de facto control of the city. In 1975, the Portuguese civilian government even offered to return Macao to China. The British Hong Kong authorities were the winner in the 1967 riots. As for the handover processes, Macao's was quite smooth, and there were no bitter arguments or confrontations between Portugal and China. On the contrary, as early as the Sino-British talks about the future of Hong Kong began, the British Hong Kong authorities and Beijing engaged in hard struggle and bargaining. The extent to which other parts of the world paid attention to Hong Kong was quite different.

In the Spring and Autumn Period in China, Yan Ying, a prime minister of the state of Qi, was sent as an envoy to the state of Chu, where he said, "Mandarin orange plants to the north of the Huai give off trifoliate oranges". That indicates that similar things could develop very differently under different circumstances. All from the central authorities, Hong Kong and Macao need to have proper regard to those differences that existed and actually exist between the two cities so that OCTS will, in keeping with the two SARs' peculiarities, remain stable and last long.

明報社評2019.12.04:橘越淮而為枳 澳門經驗難搬港

北京舉行紀念澳門《基本法》實施20周年座談會,全國人大委員長栗戰書的講話,雖然聚焦澳門,然而實際更似是向香港發話,栗戰書也明言,中央對港澳有些要求是一樣的,「香港區也要很好地領會中央精神」。

中美走向對抗,國際形勢劇變,中央愈益關注外部勢力利用港澳一國兩制作為顛覆滲透缺口。對中央來說,現在香港已經出了狀况,為免澳門出事,有可能加強風險管控、構築更多有形無形的「防火牆」,防止不穩定因素經由香港或其他孔道,向澳門以至內地蔓延。栗戰書就全面準確有效實施澳門基本法,提出4點希望,包括嚴格依照憲法和基本法實施治理、依法行使中央對澳門全面管治權和澳門高度自治權、繼續建立健全維護國家安全的制度機制,以及持續加強憲法和基本法的宣傳推廣。有關說法顯然也是對香港的要求。

港獨是空中樓閣,回到政治現實,一國兩制仍是香港唯一活路。反修例風暴的爆發,說明香港一國兩制實踐出了問題,中央認為必須妥善處理「一國」與「兩制」關係,使中央的全面管治權與特區高度自治權,在一國兩制架構內有機結合、有效運行。從中央的角度,澳門可說是理想楷模,然而「澳情」與「港情」不同,「澳門特色」的一國兩制,在香港未必合用,甚至完全無法發揮預期效果。

港澳昔日同是西方殖民地,現在又同樣奉行一國兩制,可是兩地一路走來的經歷很不一樣,差異性隨時蓋過可比性。1966年澳門反殖鬥爭,左派全面勝利,取得澳門實際控制權,1975年葡萄牙文人政府甚至主動向中方提出歸還澳門,相比之下,香港六七暴動,港英是勝利一方;看兩地回歸進程,澳門回歸相當平順,葡萄牙與中國之間沒有激烈爭拗對抗,相比之下,早在香港前途問題談判之初,港英與北京已在激烈鬥爭博弈,國際關注度也很不同。

春秋時代,齊國宰相晏嬰出使楚國,留下了「橘越淮而為枳」這一典故,說明外在水土環境之別,可以得出截然不同的結果。中央和港澳各方需要思考,如何好好照顧這些歷史和現實差異,令一國兩制可以順應兩地獨特情况,行穩致遠。

■Glossary

grasp : a person's understanding of a subject or of difficult facts

a castle in the air : a visionary or baseless project

peculiarity : a feature that only belongs to one particular person, thing, place, etc.

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