Mr YUEN Mo (Chairman of the 52nd terms of office) December 2020
This year’s Policy Address shed light on how Hong Kong, by leveraging the Central government’s support, can further participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area in such aspects as finance, innovation and technology (I&T), infrastructure and youth development.
Amid various challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, China-US friction and international political and economic situations, the Chief Executive announced her latest Policy Address last month, outlining the blueprint for Hong Kong’s long-term development. The Policy Address placed emphasis on the implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, and put forward strategies to advance the integration of Hong Kong into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Greater Bay Area). In light of the opportunities, local businesses and other sectors of society should support the HKSAR government in implementing the measures in the Policy Address to promote social harmony and stability, and above all, the future development of Hong Kong.
Driving all-round cooperation in the Greater Bay Area
This year’s Policy Address highlighted the importance of integrating into the country’s overall development for Hong Kong. It shed light on how Hong Kong, by leveraging the Central government’s support, can further participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area in such aspects as finance, innovation and technology (I&T), infrastructure and youth development.
To begin, the Central government supports the deepening of mutual access between the Mainland and Hong Kong financial markets, and the gradual expansion of the Stock Connect inclusion arrangements with Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange. These measures will consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center, and strengthen its leadership role as the provider of investment, financing and other financial services in the Greater Bay Area. As the “Stock Connect” matures, we hope the Hong Kong authorities can consider further arrangements in respect of Mainland companies seeking secondary listing and IPO fundraising in Hong Kong, so as to sharpen the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s capital market.
The Central government has also agreed to Hong Kong and Shenzhen’s joint development of the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Co-operation Zone (SITZ). The governments of the two cities are exploring the feasibility of allowing the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation to lease and manage certain areas of the Innovation and Technology Zone in Futian, so that Hong Kong tech companies which are interested in starting their business in the Greater Bay Area can establish a presence in the SITZ before the completion of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park. This is a breakthrough from the narrow mentality of “Shenzhen river sets the boundary” in the past, and is favorable to the integration of Hong Kong’s tech industry into the Greater Bay Area. At the same time, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao can explore the possibility of devising I&T policies for the Greater Bay Area together, and setting up a bank and fund dedicated to supporting I&T and research and development (R&D) in the area. The Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments can also establish an I&T and R&D fund to subsidize high-tech research projects and start-ups in the Lok Ma Chau Loop.
In addition, the Central government supports the HKSAR government’s proposals to improve the infrastructure of land boundary control points between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, allow Hong Kong private cars to travel to more cities in the Mainland, and promote cooperation between the airports of Hong Kong and Zhuhai, all of which will facilitate the movement of people and commodities within the Greater Bay Area. Meanwhile, since Hong Kong’s maritime industry enjoys a unique edge, the Hong Kong authorities should consider fostering the development of Hong Kong’s high-end maritime services and enhancing areas like ship registration, management and leasing, marine insurance and talent nurturing, in order to address the needs for maritime services in the Greater Bay Area in the long run.
Anti-epidemic effort is top priority at present
In view of the fluctuating COVID-19 situation, we support the HKSAR government in adopting all necessary measures to curb the outbreak, so that policies for promoting economic and social development can be effectively implemented. The recent few weeks has seen a sudden surge in unknown sources of infection within the community and clusters of cases. The authorities may want to consider mandatory universal testing to achieve the target of “zero infections”, so that local residents can resume their normal lives. The government should also consider encouraging the gradual resumption of movement of people between the Mainland and Hong Kong through the mutual recognition system for “health codes”, thereby accelerating the recovery of the local economy.
We hope once the COVID-19 situation has stabilized, the HKSAR government can quickly explore the creation of “travel bubbles” and “economic bubbles” between Hong Kong and places with which it enjoys close tourism and business ties. The Policy Address mentioned the one-stop platform to be launched by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council with Guangdong Province and relevant chambers of commerce to provide the Greater Bay Area’s market and policy information, business matching services and other business support to Hong Kong enterprises. It also stated that Hong Kong will strengthen cooperation with countries and regions under the “Belt and Road Initiative”, and actively lobby to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to help Hong Kong businesses to become less dependent on the European and American markets and to tap into the domestic market, while strengthening trade cooperation with the ASEAN countries and other neighboring regions.
The Policy Address stressed that the Central government’s support for Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle will inject new momentum to the city’s economic development. The implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law has restored social stability and allowed Hong Kong to focus once again on economic and social development. At the Question-and-Answer Sessions at the Legislative Council following the announcement of the Policy Address, the Chief Executive was able to discuss the policies with the lawmakers in a peaceful atmosphere. The improved relation between the executive and legislative branches of the government is crucial for rebuilding a communication platform and, more importantly, the comprehensive, accurate implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and the Basic Law. We look forward to seeing all social sectors joined together, taking the latest Policy Address as the restarting point to help Hong Kong to get back on track. By leveraging its strengths and actively taking part in the country’s “dual-circulation” goal and “14th Five-Year Plan”, Hong Kong will be able to better integrate into the developments of the Greater Bay Area and the country.