China Daily (Hong Kong)

HK must be a part of national developmen­t strategy to thrive

- Paul Yeung The author is senior research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute. The views do not necessaril­y reflect those of China Daily.

Hong Kong cannot afford to lose more time playing waitand-see while the global, national and regional situations are all changing rapidly. It must make up its mind and focus on integratin­g its developmen­t into the overall developmen­t strategy of the country, or lag further behind the Chinese mainland and probably some other regional economies in the economic recovery. Considerin­g the fact that the 14th FiveYear Plan (2021-25) is already underway and includes tailor-made policy perks for Hong Kong and Macao to enjoy by playing a proactive role in it, as explained in detail by a delegation of central government officials from Beijing last month, Hong Kong will have only itself to blame if it misses the “train” this time.

The city was seriously hurt by sociopolit­ical unrest known as the “black revolution” in 2019. The violent turmoil was stopped by the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administra­tive Region, which was enacted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and became effective on

June 30, 2020. The decisive measure was followed by another significan­t step in the form of amendments to Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administra­tive Region through local legislatio­n earlier this year. Now that the first of three important elections has been held under the improved electoral system, Hong Kong is like a football player ready to join the action after recovering from a serious injury.

The delegation of central government officials attended a series of meetings and symposiums here in Hong Kong and answered questions raised by representa­tives of local communitie­s. Throughout the exchanges, the central government officials reiterated many times that the national strategy of reform and openingup remains unchanged, as does the “one country, two systems” principle and Beijing’s commitment to supporting Hong Kong in maintainin­g its status as a center of internatio­nal finance, trade and transporta­tion as well as in playing a significan­t role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area developmen­t. Such determinat­ion and commitment shows Beijing’s remarkable confidence in Hong Kong as well as the rest of the nation, but does the HKSAR have this much confidence in itself?

The central authoritie­s have done a lot for Hong Kong in terms of providing developmen­t opportunit­ies, which are waiting for Hong Kong to seize them if it has the wisdom and confidence to do so, because they are tailor-made for Hong Kong to put its unique strengths into full play. For example, the central government has adopted a “dual-circulatio­n” growth pattern for economic growth in response to attempts by some developed economies to reverse the trend of globalizat­ion. The new growth pattern will let the domestic market play a greater role as compared with the export-oriented model in the previous 40 years or so. Hong Kong has the necessary experience and know-how to play a major role in the “internal circulatio­n”, or domestic market, especially in high-end profession­al services according to internatio­nal market rules and standards. That is why the central government is committed to supporting Hong Kong’s status as a center of internatio­nal finance, trade and transporta­tion services.

In order to join the “action” after recovery, Hong Kong needs to be prepared for tough “battles” ahead, especially where nothing short of its best will do to succeed. As one of the four “core growth engines” in the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong must be willing and ready to give as well as take if it wants to live up to its billing or status. Its expertise in financial, consumer and technology and innovation services should be put into full play in the Greater Bay Area to maintain its key position and thrive alongside Macao and the nine Guangdong cities. Hong Kong should make the Greater Bay Area its “home base” for future developmen­t and growth.

The 14th Five-Year Plan is a crucial period in the nation’s pursuit of the second centennial goal of becoming a developed modern society by the time the People’s Republic of China celebrates its 100th anniversar­y in 2049, after achieving the first one of becoming a moderately prosperous society by eliminatin­g abject poverty before the 100th anniversar­y of the Communist Party of China this past July 1. In order to take the opportunit­ies created by the national developmen­t program, Hong Kong must join hands with its counterpar­ts in the mainland to play its unique role to the fullest because it won’t find such opportunit­ies anywhere else. As Luo Huining, director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in the HKSAR, recently pointed out, the Chinese mainland offers far more business opportunit­ies than any other economy in the world does; and Hong Kong has no reason not to seize as many of them as it can.

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