Le­ung finds big HK­role in Belt and Road plan

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS - By AL­FRED ROMANN in Hong Kong for China Daily

Three years af­ter the of­fi­cial launch of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, there is much greater un­der­stand­ing of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that it could gen­er­ate, Hong Kong Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying said onWed­nes­day.

“Peo­ple un­der­stand the whys and the whats… we are now very much at the ‘how’ stage. How do we grab the op­por­tu­ni­ties for all?” said Le­ung. “Peo­ple­whosee op­por­tu­ni­ties un­der the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive are prob­a­bly in the silent ma­jor­ity.”

“It is such a vast ini­tia­tive with such wide ram­i­fi­ca­tions and am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for Hong Kong,” Le­ung said dur­ing the China Daily Asia Lead­er­ship Round­table in Hong Kong.

The event fo­cused on “Hong Kong Su­per-Con­nect­ing the Belt and Road” and was at­tended by around 270 ex­ec­u­tives and opin­ion lead­ers.

“Hong Kong can play a piv­otal role in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive,” Le­ung said.

At a time of slow­ing growth, Hong Kong can lever­age its strength in fi­nanc­ing, ser­vices, lo­gis­tics and ed­u­ca­tion to act as a con­nec­tor of the 60-plus Belt andRoad­coun­triesan­dre­gions and the rest of the world.

A key area of fo­cus is fi­nan­cial ser­vices, the open­ness of which has al­lowed Hong Kong’s econ­omy to be named the freest in the world for 22 years in a row, said Le­ung.

In prac­ti­cal terms, Hong Kong­has­been­mov­ing­for­ward in each of what Le­ung called the “five con­nec­tiv­i­ties” of pol­icy, in­fra­struc­ture, trade and in­vest­ment, fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion and in­te­gra­tion, and peo­ple and cul­ture.

“Hong Kong could work as a teamto help ‘HongKongInc’ to bring this con­nec­tive force to bear,” said Le­ung.

Other speak­ers at the lead­er­ship round­table agreed with the im­por­tance of lever­ag­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive to boost growth.

“Hong Kong’s own suc­cess re­lies en­tirely on trade flows and open mar­kets. Hong Kong has be­come too in­ward-look­ing and less open in re­cent years. Al­most pro­tec­tion­ist, some­times,” said Stephen Ng, chair­man of the Hong Kong Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has caught the at­ten­tion of the busi­ness com­mu­nity in Hong Kong,” said Jonathan Choi, chair­man of the Chi­nese Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce.

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