Fellow Compatriots, Dear Friends,
Today, we gather here on a joyous occasion to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’ return to the motherland. First of all, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Central Government and people of all ethnic groups across the country, cordial greetings to all the people of Hong Kong. I wish to offer warm congratulations to Mr. Leung Chun-ying, the fourth chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), his team and members of the Executive Council who have just been sworn in. I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to all the fellow Chinese both at home and abroad and foreign friends who have cared about Hong Kong and have contributed to its smooth return and to its continued prosperity and stability!
The return of Hong Kong to the motherland will go down as a great achievement in the annals of Chinese history; it will be remembered as a historic event at the end of the last century that has a major international significance. Since the very moment of its return, Hong Kong has entered a new era and begun a new journey. Over the past 15 years, the principles of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy have been fully implemented. Our compatriots in Hong Kong are now masters of their own fate and manage, on their own, affairs that fall within the autonomy of the SAR. Never before have Hong Kong residents enjoyed the range of democratic rights and freedoms as they do now. Despite the impact of the international financial crisis, Hong Kong has registered steady economic growth and has remained an international financial, trade and shipping center. It has all along been considered as the most free and open economy and one of the most competitive and dynamic regions of the world. Hong Kong has enjoyed all-round social development, continued high employment level and significantly improved social security. Its exchanges with the mainland have expanded across the board, with much stronger economic and trade ties and deepened cooperation in various areas. Hong Kong has continued to make unique contribution to the reform, opening-up and modernization drive in the mainland of China, and at the same time it has gained more and more opportunities and endless impetus for its development from the mainland. Our compatriots in Hong Kong enjoy a growing sense of identity and closeness with the country and the nation. In the face of serious disasters, our Hong Kong compatriots and people on the mainland have stood together and supported each other, fully demonstrating that we are kith and kin and blood is thicker than water. Also in these 15 years, Hong Kong has been more active in its external contacts and has seen its international influence further expanded.