President Hu Jintao administers the oath of office to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.
President stresses importance of the Basic Law, stability and developing leaders of the future
President Hu Jintao urged the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, sworn in on Sunday, to strive for harmony and stability, uphold the authority of the Basic Law, enhance competitiveness, ensure that people can reach their potential and help develop future leaders of society.
"Harmony and stability underpin development. It's imperative for the new SAR government to put the people's interests first, accurately gauge public opinion and take concrete and effective measures to properly address issues concerning the people's livelihood and social tensions," the president told some 2,300 guests at the swearing-in ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
He called for greater government efforts to ensure equal opportunity, to heed the concerns of disadvantaged groups and to reach out to the younger generation so that all sectors of Hong Kong society can share the benefits of its development.
Noting that the rule of law is one of Hong Kong's core values, with the Basic Law enjoying supreme status in the legal system, the president said: "It's essential to put into practice each and every provision of the Basic Law and improve the institutions and mechanisms related to its implementation.
"We should continue to advance the democratic process in Hong Kong as provided for in the Basic Law. Never before have Hong Kong residents enjoyed the range of democratic rights and freedoms as they do now," Hu said in his 15-minute address.
On the economic challenges faced by Hong Kong amid intense regional and international competition, the president urged the city to work hard to raise their competitiveness.
"It must have better strategic planning for its long-term development and bring into better play the government's role in promoting economic and social development," he added.
The president also said that human resources are at the heart of competition in today's world.
Priority, he said, should be given to nurturing people who have leadership qualities, who love the motherland and Hong Kong, by providing opportunities and platforms for them to stand out.
Speaking of the 15th anniversary celebrations, Hu said Hong Kong's return to the motherland will go down as a great achievement in the annals of China's history. "It will be remembered as a historic event of major international significance."
The president pledged that the central government will continue to uphold the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", which he described as "the best solution" to the Hong Kong question left over from history and the "best institutional arrangement" for the region's long-term prosperity and stability.
The president also urged the SAR government and the people of Hong Kong to correctly and comprehensively understand and implement the principle of "One Country, Two Systems."
In his inaugural speech, Leung Chun-ying promised to fulfill his election pledges and repay the trust placed in him by the central government and the people of Hong Kong.
"I will spare no effort in carrying out my election platform and lead Hong Kong in seeking change while preserving stability.
"My goal is to develop the economy, improve the livelihood of the people, promote democracy and build a more prosperous, progressive and righteous society," Leung, who delivered his speech in Putonghua, said.
"I will honor the pledges I have made — uphold justice, protect the rights of the people, safeguard the rule of law, clean government, freedom and democracy, human rights and press freedom, which are among the core values of Hong Kong."
He said his administration will start working right away to implement his policies focusing on enhancing economic development, speeding up the construction of public-housing and nurturing talent.
"In the next five years, my team and I will continue to stay in close touch with the people so as to narrow the physical and psychological gap between the government and the community," he added.
An hour before his inauguration, Leung led officials and community leaders at a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square. There was also a fly-past by helicopters unfurling the national and HKSAR flags above Victoria Harbor.
The local community gave a positive response to the president's three-day visit, with many convinced that the central government's backing and economic incentives for Hong Kong would benefit the city in the long run.
"President Hu's words show that he cares about Hong Kong, its people and the city's progress and development, and he wants all Hong Kong people to reap the fruits of its success," said Kei Shek-ming, a veteran current affairs commentator.
Ashley Wong, a 13-year-old student, told China Daily that she is proud and happy with the achievements Hong Kong has made in so many fields since the handover.
Celebrations in Hong Kong to mark the 15th anniversary were held over the weekend.
More than 40,000 people packed Hong Kong Stadium for a performance by an 80-member parachute team from the People's Liberation Army.
On Sunday evening, hundreds of thousands of people crowded the promenades on both sides of Victoria Harbour for a fireworks display.
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