Lam aims to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is ea­ger to ex­tend cross-bound­ary col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land, ac­knowl­edg­ing the huge op­por­tu­ni­ties the main­land’s eco­nomic mir­a­cle have brought the city.

Hailed as a dy­namic hub for global fi­nance, Hong Kong has seen its fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor earn a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion and be­come one of the twin pil­lars of the lo­cal econ­omy, Lam said at a meet­ing with Guo Shuqing, chair­man of China Bank­ing Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (CBRC), in Bei­jing on Tues­day.

De­spite its im­pec­ca­ble strength in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, which cur­rently ac­count for 17 per­cent of Hong Kong’s GDP, the city faces in­tense com­pe­ti­tion from a clus­ter of ri­val cen­ters for a lead­ing role in global fi­nance.

“This makes ce­ment­ing its role as an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cen­ter a real is­sue for Hong Kong. And it can never go without the unswerv­ing sup­port from the cen­tral govern­ment,” Lam said.

The re­marks were made on Lam’s se­cond full day of meet­ings in Bei­jing as part of her first of­fi­cial visit to the cap­i­tal since she took of­fice on July 1. Lam led a del­e­ga­tion of her top aides, in­clud­ing Fi­nan­cial Sec­re­tary Paul Chan Mo-po and other heads of pol­icy bu­reaus, to meet var­i­ous min­istries in her quest for more bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in fu­ture.

Hav­ing worked for the Hong Kong govern­ment for a good 37 years, Lam said she has never been in charge of fi­nan­cial affairs. This makes her be­lieve pay­ing a visit to CBRC will of­fer a fine start to her term as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Guo noted that the bank­ing in­dus­try stands as the ab­so­lute dom­i­nant force in the main­land’s fi­nan­cial sys­tem. Over the first half of this year credit from main­land lenders grew 950 bil­lion yuan ($141.7 bil­lion) year on year, in­di­cat­ing a bet­ter-than-ex­pected per­for­mance of the coun­try’s real econ­omy.

Echo­ing Guo’s re­marks, Lam said Hong Kong’s bank­ing in­dus­try had also fared well so far this year, shown by a 10 per­cent growth in as­set value, a steady rise in new credit and a rel­a­tively low bad-loan level.

“As Hong Kong is look­ing to ride high on the un­der­tak­ings and goals of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area plan, this calls for main­land and Hong Kong’s bank­ing reg­u­la­tors join­ing hands in a more proac­tive man­ner,” she said.

In a sign of Hong Kong’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to play a big­ger part in the Belt and Road push and Greater Bay Area plan, the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion is look­ing for­ward to closely join­ing forces with Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion (NDRC) to work out de­tails of the two grand plans, Lam said at a meet­ing with He Lifeng, chair­man of NDRC, on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

Beach­go­ers give globs of palm oil wide berth at Up­per Che­ung Sha Beach in Lan­tau on Tues­day; Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties have closed 13 beaches af­ter palm-oil spilt in a ship col­li­sion clogged the sands.

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