Inaugural Speech by the Honourable Tung Chee Hwa
Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
of the People's Republic of China
on July 1, 1997

President Jiang, Premier Li, My Fellow Countrymen, and Friends,

         This is a momentous and historic day : July first, nineteen ninety-seven. After one hundred and fifty-six years of separation, Hong Kong and China are whole again. This is a solemn, stately, and proud moment. We are here today to announce to the world, in our language, that Hong Kong has entered a new era.

         In recent history, China, as a nation, and we, as a people, have been through days of glory and times of despair. We have lived through days of hope, prosperity and glory. We have lived through days of despair, humiliation and hopelessness. The lesson is clear : the most precious possession of any nation or any people is the ability to chart one's own future, to be master of one's own destiny. Indeed, over the past century and a half, many compatriots, driven by lofty ideals and steadfast conviction, have devoted themselves to the advancement of our people and safeguarding the territorial integrity of our nation. Their enormous sacrifice and tireless efforts have brought us to where we are today. Never have we, as a nation, had such prosperity and potential to achieve greatness as we do today. Nor have we achieved greater recognition and dignity in the international community as we do today; as Hong Kong is finally re-united with China in a smooth and peaceful manner.

         Today, we, as a nation, are fortunate to be in a position which our predecessors could only dream about. As a Chinese living in Hong Kong, and on behalf of all the people of Hong Kong, I would like to express our profound respect and gratitude to all the men and women who have made such sacrifices and given us what would otherwise have been impossible to attain.

         The resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong under "One Country, Two Systems" is an ingenious and novel concept. The eyes of the world are on us, as Hong Kong accepts the great honour, and the challenge, of charting new waters which will make history. We are confident that we will rise to the challenge and build a brighter and better future. Our confidence is well founded. Our conviction is based on the intellect and vision of a great patriot and statesman; on the solemn commitment of a great nation; and on the wisdom, industry and versatility of the Hong Kong people, a legacy from our heritage and culture. Above all, we, as one nation and one people, will implement the "One Country, Two Systems" concept; it is entirely within our prerogative to make it work.

         Through a solemn act of law, the Central People's Government has granted Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, unparalleled anywhere in the world. We value this empowerment, and we will exercise our powers prudently and responsibly. We are embarking on a new era. With the respect and trust from the entire nation, we will be that much more equipped to sail forward with confidence and with conviction. We will play a part in facilitating the re-unification of the entire nation, and bringing a better life to all in the nation.

         For the first time in history, we, the people of Hong Kong, will be master of our own destiny. The Special Administrative Region Government is fully committed to preserving the Hong Kong way of life, maintaining Hong Kong's free and open economic system, upholding the rule of law, and building a more democratic society. We will be compassionate to those in need, and we will maintain Hong Kong as a vibrant and international city.

         The nation and the people have entrusted to me the responsibility as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. As I stand here at this historic moment, a moment of great honour and pride, I am mindful of the enormous responsibilities which lie ahead. Throughout my life, I have experienced the joy and satisfaction of success and the pain and frustration of failure. I understand the hopes and aspirations of Hong Kong people. I am fully aware of the power in unity of purpose and direction. I will resolutely uphold the principles of autonomy as set forth under the Basic Law. I will carry out my duties with honesty, sincerity and determination. I will lead the 6.5 million people of Hong Kong, along with our indomitable spirit, towards the future. As part of China, we will move forward as one inseparable nation with two distinct systems.

         I firmly believe, as a Special Administrative Region of China, the future of Hong Kong will be more glorious and more successful.