Hong Kong has been taken aback by the 5th onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s spreading fast. Hong Kong is a metropolis that runs under the “one country, two systems” principle, serving as a bridge that connects China with other parts of the world. Hong Kong is special in its own culture and its choice of pandemic prevention protocols, which set complex roadblocks to achieving a “dynamic zero-COVID” outcome. Meanwhile, as proved repeatedly in the Chinese Mainland, eliminating new COVID-19 cases dynamically has been an effective scheme, and a scientific and systematic method for guaranteeing life and health to the greatest extent.
The spread of and response to the outbreak in Hong Kong demonstrate objective differences from that in the Chinese mainland. First, Hong Kong is a densely populated city with relatively small dwelling space. The city thrives on mobility, especially people-to-people exchanges with other parts of the world, making it prone to imported cases and difficult to prevent transmissions. Secondly, debates over Hong Kong’s decision between “dynamic zero-COVID” and “co-existence with the virus” have caused a sway in the city’s response measures. All these factors led to loopholes and risks in Hong Kong’s overall pandemic prevention and control system. These factors, both internal and external, have compromised Hong Kong’s ability to implement comprehensive and effective measures.
Hong Kong’s fight against the pandemic is special indeed, given the “two systems” context. But the pandemic is threatening the lives and health of every Hong Kong resident, and the Chinese government will not let that continue. In the previous four waves, the Chinese government has answered to Hong Kong’s needs and aided it in proper ways. This time, however, the outbreak has been so fierce that Hong Kong has fallen short in medical capacity. People in Hong Kong are faced with severe threats, leading to decisive responses from the Chinese government: experts, medical teams and equipment have been dispatched to support Hong Kong; with resources mobilized from the Chinese mainland, several Fangcang hospitals are also being built. Hong Kong has also cooperated: Under the Basic Law of Hong Kong Administrative Region (HKSAR), the upcoming election for Hong Kong’s chief executive was postponed, staff from the Chinese mainland are exempted from licensing requirements, and collaborative mechanisms for joint responses have also been instituted among the HKSAR government, the Chinese central government and other relevant local governments. Such mutual trust, unwavering assistance and concerted efforts under the “one country, two systems” principle represent a swift combat against the new surge.
Whenever Hong Kong is in need, its motherland is there to respond. This is the essence of the “one country, two systems” principle, which has been repeatedly proven since Hong Kong’s return to China. Seeing into the past, when the 1997 Asian Financial crisis, the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2019 riots hit, the Chinese government took positive actions in back Hong Kong based on the Constitution and the Basic Law of HKSAR. Such efforts were made out of obligation, good faith and bonds among compatriots, which stand for the very rationale behind the insistence on the “one country, two systems” principle and ensuring Hong Kong’s prosperity. Lives matter above all else, and that makes standing up to the pandemic all the more paramount. Hong Kong’s battle against COVID-19 will once more become a test for the “one country, two systems” principle, and critical juncture for “patriots governing Hong Kong“.
Hong Kong’s fight against COVID-19: a test for “one country, two systems”