Brussels: “The combined advantages of “one country” and “two systems” have made Hong Kong the “super-connector” between the Mainland of China and the rest of the world”, this was stated by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) during a press conference here in Brussels.
Ms Shirley Lam Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union and Ms Alice CHOI Deputy Representative briefed the media about the developments in Hong Kong and the HKETO’s events for 2017 as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Mr Thierry Perouse presented 13-minute film about Hong Kong during the event.
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels, represents the Hong Kong Government to the European Union and 14 of its Member States, plus Turkey. It is the “head office” of Hong Kong in Europe, supported by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in London and Berlin.
Ms Shirley Lam HKETO Special Representative while briefing to media said, “2017 is a milestone year for Hong Kong as we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Establishment of the Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997. On that date, China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, which had been under British rule since 26 January 1841. ”
Ms Shirley elaborated that Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, with a high degree of autonomy guaranteed a constitutional document, the Basic Law, and in accordance with the principles of “one country, two systems” and “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”.
She stated that “One country, two systems” is an innovative constitutional arrangement.
“Back in the 1980s, when the people prepared for Hong Kong’s return to China, many people had doubts on whether “two systems” in “one country” would work. In other words, whether the Hong Kong system would survive the change in 1997, as our legal system, our passport, and our currency for example, are all different from the Mainland of China’s”, Ms Shirley further explained.
On the cordial relations with China she said “We are part of China and enjoy the “China advantage”, benefiting from all the opportunities that come with the Mainland’s economic development. At the same time, we practice a different system from the Mainland cities. We enjoy the free movement of trade, capital and information, the rule of law, a simple and low tax regime, and English as an official language along with Chinese. “
“The combined advantages of “one country” and “two systems” have made us the “super-connector” between the Mainland of China and the rest of the world. At the same time, Hong Kong has helped China to expand its business worldwide”, Ms Shirley remarked.
She said that Hong Kong has preferential access to the Mainland market through a free trade agreement, known as China-Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or CEPA. Hong Kong is a level playing field, and foreign companies established in Hong Kong can benefit from CEPA under the same conditions as local companies.
She also said that there is a strong linkage of Hong Kong’s stock market with the Mainland’s two stock markets, which benefits investors from all over the world. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect was launched in December 2016 and the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect launched in November 2014 that allow international investors to trade stocks listed in the Mainland via Hong Kong brokers, and vice versa allow for international stocks listed in Hong Kong to be available for Mainland investment.
Ms Shirley stated that Hong Kong airport was opened in 1998 a,d is currently the world’s third busiest passenger airport [70.5 million passengers in 2016] and the airport with the largest cargo throughput [4.52 million tonnes in 2016]. She further explained that work has started on building a three-runway system, a huge, eight-year project of a scale similar to the construction of an entirely new airport. The third runway will give it the capacity to handle around 100 million passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo annually by 2030.
She also mentioned that to boost the economy a huge project of three-way bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao is now in its last phases. The Bridge will cut travel time from Hong Kong to Zhuhai from three and a half hours to 65 minutes. This will boost trade, commerce, tourism, and more, between Hong Kong, the west coast of the Pearl River Delta, Guangxi Province and possibly Vietnam.
She said that there is the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link project, a 26-kilometre railway line flowing from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and further north, linking us to the Mainland’s high-speed rail network. It is expected that the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link will commence service in the third quarter of 2018.
Hong Kong is prepared to play a key role in China’s visionary development strategy, the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road Initiative), a grand project for building up connectivity among more than 60 countries across three continents.
Ms Shirley also disclosed that Hong Kong has signed an agreement with Mainland neighbour, Shenzhen, to jointly develop a 1.2 million square metre Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park located on the Hong Kong side just across the boundary with Shenzhen. This massive project is set to be the largest innovation and technology platform that Hong Kong has ever established and it will become a key research base for I&T development involving robotics, bio-pharmaceuticals, smart city and financial technologies.
She said that this project has attracted top institutions from around the world to come to Hong Kong, for instance Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, a medical university that selects Nobel laureates in medicine and the US’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Alibaba Group has launched a HK$1 billion Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, and the world-renowned venture capital firm Sequoia Capital launched a startup platform to help young entrepreneurs achieve success.
She said that as one of the world’s biggest financial centres, financial technologies industry known as fintech, is one of our top priorities. Hong Kong currently has 12 fintech innovation labs. Last October, HSBC and the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) launched a joint innovation laboratory.
She also informed about the political developments are also taking place to favour the development in 2017 as Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive will be elected on 26 March.
“Our current Chief Executive, Mr CY Leung, has decided not to stand for a second term of office. There are four contenders in the election, including two of our former government ministers, Chief Secretary for Administration, Carrie Lam and Financial Secretary, John Tsang, who stepped down from the government recently to run their campaigns”, said Ms Shirley the media.
- This report is sponsored by startup company www.worldtechnologycentre.com