Mr YUEN Mo (Chairman of the 52nd terms of office) November 2021
It is the right time to chart the future of Hong Kong. We hope the HKSAR government will strengthen communication with various stakeholders of the business and other sectors, and launch the work proposed in the Policy Address as soon as possible.
The Policy Address delivered by the Chief Executive last month, the last of her current term, is not only comprehensive but also proactive and forward-looking as a blueprint for the mid- and long-term development of Hong Kong. In particular, it maps out policies and measures to ensure Hong Kong can better integrate into the national development and capitalize on the immense opportunities presented by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area). From the standpoint of the business sector, it is important to stand ready and help facilitate the implementation of these policies and measures.
Northern Metropolis: A vital platform for I&T development
Prior to the announcement of the Policy Address, CGCC had recommended a “dual-core” development pattern for Hong Kong, one in which the south is strong in finance and the north in innovation and technology (I&T), to align with the development of the Greater Bay Area. We are pleased to see that the latest Policy Address has put forward the groundbreaking vision of the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, a concrete plan that will help promote deeper cooperation and integration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, especially in the I&T area.
Within Hong Kong, there is a general consensus that the development of the I&T industry should be strengthened. The Northern Metropolis will provide a strong foothold for Hong Kong to align the course of its I&T development with Shenzhen’s. In our opinion, the Northern Metropolis will allow the two cities to draw on each other’s strengths, and forge a “mini-Silicon Valley” in New Territories North where resources and talent from both the Mainland and overseas will converge.
Under the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, the areas around Lok Ma Chau Control Point and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park will be consolidated to form the San Tin Technopole and create a critical mass for the I&T industry. The HKSAR government can consider providing direct subsidies or tax incentives to attract large-scale Chinese and international corporations to set up branches in the area. It should also lobby for the establishment of a “state laboratory” in the technopole to undertake important scientific research projects commissioned by the country. We hope the Hong Kong authorities will adopt a flexible approach to speed up the related developments.
Seeking breakthroughs in housing and land supply
The Policy Address has also proposed a series of new measures to increase housing supply and free up a considerable amount of land in the urban areas and New Territories North, underlining the government’s determination to resolve the obstinate problems related to housing and its willingness to undertake its responsibilities.
Land planning is not only about house building. Rather, it strives to balance the needs for different land uses in a wholistic manner. We are delighted to see that as one way to boost the development of the I&T industry in Hong Kong, the Policy Address has allocated more land for this purpose, while the Northern Metropolis will redress the longstanding issue of a lack of macro and long-term land planning.
Given the urgency, it is necessary for the HKSAR government to implement different measures simultaneously so that the supply of both land and housing can be increased within a short time. For instance, both quantity and types of subsidized housing should be increased drastically to meet the homeowning needs of the public. We also hope the authorities will try to shorten the time needed to increase land supply by compressing the workflow of land development – for example, statutory procedures and administrative arrangements should be reviewed, and land-related regulations may have to be revised.
Reopening Mainland border should take front seat
The effective implementation of the measures proposed in the Policy Address depends heavily on the reopening of the border with the Mainland. We are delighted with the active effort of the Hong Kong authorities and their Mainland counterparts to coordinate anti-epidemic measures. We hope they will be able to confirm the details of the arrangements soon so that cross-border economic and social activities can go back to normal in the near future.
After the Hong Kong National Security Law was enacted a bit more than a year ago, social stability has been restored in Hong Kong. The Central government has also successfully promoted the enhancement of Hong Kong’s electoral system. The upcoming Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections will lay a solid ground for the implementation of the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle. With the epidemic stabilizing, it is the right time to chart the future of Hong Kong. We hope the HKSAR government will strengthen communication with various stakeholders of the business and other sectors, and launch the work proposed in the Policy Address as soon as possible to benefit the public.