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Editorial : Hong Kong should make good use of "One country, two systems"

【明報專訊】RELATIONS between China and Japan have been thawing this year. After Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Japan in May, Shinzō Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, is to visit China this week, the first official visit made by a Japanese Prime Minister in seven years. Not only will he meet with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese leaders, but he will also attend a commemorative event celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China and the First China-Japan Third-Market Cooperation Forum. After Abe's China visit, Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong Chief Executive, will also visit Japan, opening a new chapter for Hong Kong-Japan relations.

Carrie Lam's visit to Japan will be her first official visit to Japan in eight years, as well as the first in nine years for a Hong Kong Chief Executive.

Although the Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong's foreign affairs are handled by the central government, the HKSAR government may use the name "Hong Kong, China" to maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organisations in the appropriate fields, including the economic, trade, financial and monetary, shipping, communications, tourism, cultural and sports fields. It may, using the name "Hong Kong, China", participate in international organisations and conferences not limited to states. The central government may decide, after seeking the views of the HKSAR government, whether an international agreement to which China is or becomes a party will apply to Hong Kong in accordance with its circumstances and needs. The Hong Kong government is authorised to conclude visa abolition agreements with foreign states or regions. In other words, Hong Kong enjoys a lot of leeway in interactions with the outside world.

Take, for example, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the related Investment Agreement signed between Hong Kong and ASEAN last November, which help reduce the restrictions in doing business and expand business opportunities for Hong Kong enterprises and bring about better market access in areas such as access for the trade in goods and services as well as investment protection to Hong Kong. Recent analysis of international markets suggests that ASEAN, with a population of 640 million people, might become the biggest winner in the trade war between China and the US, as the trade war has, inadvertently, facilitated huge investments in Asia, of which ASEAN is a part. It is expected that ASEAN, now the sixth biggest economy in the world, can jump to fourth place in 2030.

It is difficult for Hong Kong to stay unaffected by the ongoing trade war between China and the US. Facing scepticism about its high degree of autonomy abroad and supporters of Hong Kong's independence relentlessly testing the central government's bottom line domestically, Hong Kong should adhere to the stance of "One country" at the same time leveraging the advantages offered by "two systems". It should take full advantage of its specialities in the international arena to blaze a trail amid the conflicts between China and the US which not only allows Hong Kong to save itself but also helps our country to solve its problems. This will make the international community have proper regard for Hong Kong's value again. Whether Hong Kong will once again become a bridge and link with which China can break through the international blockade depends on whether the HKSAR government can take the initiative to use its creativity. It will also be dependent on the central government's tolerance and wisdom.

明報社評2018.10.22:善用一國兩制優勢 對外交往創造雙贏

中日關係今年日趨緩和,繼李克強總理5月訪日之後,日本首相安倍晉三將於本周訪華,是時隔7年後日相首度官式訪華,除了與國家主席習近平、總理李克強等領導人會晤外,安倍還將出席中日和平友好條約締結40周年的紀念活動,以及首屆中日第三方市場合作官民論壇。在安倍訪華後,香港行政長官林鄭月娥亦將展開訪日之行,為香港與日本關係揭開新的一頁。

林鄭月娥今次訪日,是她個人相隔8年再度官式訪日,亦是香港特首9年來的首度訪日。

《基本法》雖然規定本港的外交事務由中央政府處理,但仍授權香港特區依法「自行處理有關的對外事務」,包括香港特區可在經濟、貿易、金融、航運、通訊、旅遊、文化、體育等領域以「中國香港」名義,單獨同各國、各地區及有關國際組織保持和發展關係,簽訂和履行有關協議;可以「中國香港」名義參加不以國家為單位參加的國際組織和國際會議;中國締結的國際協議,中央可根據香港的情况和需要,徵詢特區意見後,決定是否適用於香港;授權香港與各國或各地區締結互免簽證協議等。對於香港的對外交往,其實預留了極大空間。

就以香港與東盟去年11月簽訂的《自貿協定》和相關《投資協定》為例,協定在貨物貿易、服務貿易和投資保護等方面,為港商降低門檻、擴大商機,提供了更佳的市場准入條件。最近,已經有國際市場分析認為,擁有6.4億人口的東盟或成中美貿易戰的最大贏家,因貿易戰意外地促使東盟在內的亞洲投資大幅成長,令東盟這個目前全球第六大經濟體,到2030年有望成為第四大經濟體。

當前的中美貿易戰,香港已難置身事外,外有國際對香港高度自治地位的置疑,內有港獨支持者不斷挑戰中央底線的舉動,香港應該既堅守一國立場,又利用兩制優勢,發揮自己的國際特長,在中美衝突下走出一條既可自保、又可為國家排憂解難的獨特道路,讓國際重新正視香港的價值。香港能否如歷史上那樣,再度成為中國打破國際封鎖的橋樑與紐帶,既需要特區政府發揮主動創意,又需要中央政府的寬容智慧。

■Glossary

scepticism : an attitude of doubting that claims or statements are true or that sth will happen

leverage : to get as much advantage or profit as possible from sth that you have

speciality : an area of work or study that sb gives most of their attention to and knows a lot about; sth that sb is good at

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