(Royal Festival Hall, 15 April 2017)
Director-General Priscilla To,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a real delight to join you for this London premiere of the Legend of Mulan by the Hong Kong Dance Company. Let me begin by extending my warmest congratulations to all the artists from Hong Kong on their most successful and impressive premiere.
"Asking for nothing after triumph, the lady warrior deserves no less than the title of general."
This line is from a poem in praise of the legendary heroine Hua Mulan. Her fearless spirit, bravery and loyalty have taken deep root in the heart of the Chinese people. Over the past millennium the exploits of Hua Mulan have helped define who we are as Chinese people.
This year we celebrate 20 years of Hong Kong's return to China. As a celebration theme it is highly appropriate to relive the spirit of Mulan. This is the best way to review Hong Kong's two-decade journey. It also helps us to look into how Hong Kong will continue to forge ahead in the future.
For Hong Kong, this year is truly a milestone. Hong Kong's return to China 20 years ago marked the fulfillment of a long-cherished wish of the Chinese nation. In addition, the handover from UK to China also set a good example for the world. That is to resolve historical problems through peaceful negotiations.
To our great delight, over the past 20 years, the "One Country Two Systems" policy in Hong Kong has demonstrated great vitality. Its practice has turned out to be a huge and widely recognized success:
· The Central Government of China has all along strictly adhered to the Constitution and the Basic Law.
· In turn, this has made sure that "One Country Two Systems" has been fully and accurately implemented in Hong Kong.
· And this has been the fundamental guarantee for Hong Kong's continued prosperity and stability over the past two decades.
In Beijing early this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Madam Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor (Carrie Lam), the fifth Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
President Xi said to her:
"The Central Government's determination to uphold the 'One Country Two Systems', 'Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong' and 'high degree of autonomy' is firm and will not change or waiver".
To our great delight, over the past 20 years, Hong Kong has, with the strong backing of the Central Government, withstood the tests of the Asian financial upheavals, the SARS and the international financial crisis.
Despite these challenges, Hong Kong has done well in many aspects:
· It has had sustained economic growth.
· It has maintained social stability.
· It has ensured better lives for its people.
· Hong Kong continues to enjoy global influence as a financial, trade and business centre.
· Hong Kong has continuously been ranked as the world's top free economy.
· And Hong Kong regained the title this year as the world's most competitive economy.
Also to our great delight, over the past 20 years, Hong Kong has witnessed steady and rule-based advances in its democratic governance.
The Hong Kong people have enjoyed unprecedented democratic rights and more freedom than ever. For six years, Hong Kong has topped the Human Freedom Index.
On 26 March, in an open, fair and just election, Madam Lam won by a large margin. She became the fifth and the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong. This speaks to the success of the democratic practice in Hong Kong.
For China and Britain, this year is also a year of great significance. This year marks 45 years of Ambassadorial diplomatic ties between our two countries. It is also a year for consolidating the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations.
Hong Kong has always played an important part in China-UK relations. Now, in building the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations, we hope Hong Kong will continue to serve as a bridge between China and Britain and contribute more positive energy to China-UK relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the Ballad of Mulan, there are two lines describing Mulan's life serving in the army:
"She goes ten thousand miles on the business of war,
She crosses passes and mountains like flying."
These lines are inspirational. Equally inspirational are the past 20 years that Hong Kong has experienced since its return to China.
These two decades witnessed the successful practice of "One Country Two Systems" in Hong Kong. That is the Chinese nation's unique contribution to the political civilisation of humanity. It is also an indispensable part of the renewal of the Chinese nation.
We are feeling confident as we look ahead into the future:
· With the strong support of the Central Government of China, under the leadership of Chief Executive Lam, the people from all walks of life in Hong Kong will carry on their hardworking and unyielding spirit, just like Mulan, and overcome all kinds of challenges.
· This will enable Hong Kong, the "Pearl of the Orient", to maintain its attractive shine.
· And Hong Kong will contribute its valuable part to the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations.