Following is the speech (translation) by the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, at a reception in celebration of the seventh anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region this morning (July 1):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is with joy that we celebrate a new phase of historical development. It is with joy that we celebrate the successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems". It is with joy that we celebrate our new identity as we strive for the advancement of Hong Kong and Mainland China.
This time last year, the six-year-long economic restructuring reached its most difficult stage. The outbreak of SARS added to the impact. On July 1, 2003, people took to the streets to express their discontent at the economy, their worries about the future and their criticisms against the administration. In the face of severe challenges over the year, the SAR Government has moved further to address public grievances and to improve governance. Regarding public health, our stringent precautions have successfully prevented the return of the SARS epidemic. As to the economy, we have used every possible means to push for recovery. Thanks to the staunch support of the Central Government and the concerted efforts of all citizens, we have managed to tide over all difficulties and Hong Kong has now turned the corner.
As we celebrate the seventh anniversary of the HKSAR today, our economy is seeing a strong rebound. Public sentiment is improving and people have restored confidence about the future. That is in sharp contrast to last year. I have to thank our citizens for their advice, encouragement and assistance throughout the year. I am well aware that the community has aspirations for social cohesion and harmony and further economic growth. The SAR Government will continue its work to this end.
As I have said on many occasions, Hong Kong is blessed to be back with the motherland as the Mainland takes off. Seven years on, we take pride in every remarkable achievement our mother country has made. We appreciate the earnest care and strong support it bestows on us. Our future is closely linked with the revival and advancement of the entire nation. It is our common goal and duty to maintain a healthy relationship between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
While celebrating this anniversary, it is also time to spur ourselves on. Efforts over the past year have produced good social and economic results. But this is only the beginning. A lot more needs to be done to consolidate these results. We have indeed improved our governance. Yet there are still inadequacies that need further improvement. Taking forward constitutional development towards democracy in a gradual and orderly manner in accordance with the Basic Law, with the ultimate aim of practising universal suffrage, is our common goal. Despite the strong rebound of the economy, many have not benefited and livelihood has yet to improve. So we must give our utmost to sustain growth to ensure successful economic restructuring.
With seven years' experience in implementing "One Country, Two Systems", we will be able to continue striding ahead. We are confident that Hong Kong will emerge stronger from any challenges in the future. Thank you.
Now, let us have a toast to: "A better tomorrow for Hong Kong."
Ends/Thursday, July 1, 2004
News clip (flag-raising ceremony)
News clip (reception)