HKSAR 20th Anniversary

Lofty mission

On July 1, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region celebrated two decades of its return to China. After the inauguration of the city’s new and first female leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, President Xi Jinping urged the SAR government to improve its systems to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests

cover P1 hksar

July 3-9, 2017
in Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping on July 1 called on the fifth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to unite people of all sectors to fully and faithfully implement the principle of One Country, Two Systems.

“Today, the new SAR government is officially inaugurated. It shoulders major responsibilities and has a lofty mission to perform,” the president said after the inauguration of the city’s new leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

He also urged the SAR to improve its systems to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests.

“Any attempt to endanger national sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government and the authority of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible,” the president said.

President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after she was sworn in as the fifth-term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 1. Credit: Xu Jingxing / China Daily

Hong Kong also needs to enhance education and raise public awareness of the history and culture of the Chinese nation, Xi said.

“As Hong Kong has returned to China it is all the more important for us to firmly uphold China’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said.

The president noted that One Country, Two Systems had proved to be a workable solution welcomed by the people. Xi added that the central government will unswervingly implement the policy of One Country, Two Systems and make sure that it is fully applied in Hong Kong without being distorted.

It is imperative that people in Hong Kong always act in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, he said.

In his speech, Xi said economic development should be top priority as it was the key to resolving many problems.

“Teenagers want to grow up happily. Young people want to bring out the best of their talents. Mature people want to be successful, and seniors want to enjoy their golden years. Obviously, all this can only be achieved through development,” he said.

China’s continuous and rapid development over the years provides invaluable opportunities for Hong Kong’s development, Xi said.

Stressing that Hong Kong is a diverse society with “different views and even major differences on some specific issues”, Xi urged the HKSAR Government to unite the people in Hong Kong. He said that “it cannot afford to be torn apart by reckless moves or internal rifts”.

The central government is always ready to talk to anyone who “loves the country, loves Hong Kong” and genuinely supports the principle of One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law no matter what political views they hold, Xi stressed.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was sworn in at the inaugural ceremony. She vowed to “firmly take action in accordance with the law against any acts that will undermine the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests”.

The Hong Kong SAR Government will take measures to provide more opportunities for young people to participate in public policy discussions and their implementation, Lam said.

“By doing so, we aim not only to enhance their understanding of and trust in the government, but also to nurture future talent and leaders in society and politics,” she added.

President boosts confidence in future Xi’s remarks highlight opportunities for city to enhance its development and international prestige

July 3-9, 2017

People from various sectors in Hong Kong all spoke highly of President Xi Jinping’s visit. They said it enhances the city’s confidence and resolution to work toward a more prosperous, harmonious society under the One Country, Two Systems principle.

Xi wrapped up a three-day visit in Hong Kong on July 1 after presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of the fifth-term Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, attending events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland and carrying out an inspection tour of the region.

Samuel Yung Wing-ki, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said that Xi’s three-day visit showed the central government’s care and support for Hong Kong and its people.

The visit also reassured Hong Kong people that the central government would unswervingly uphold the One Country, Two Systems principle to maintain the Asian financial hub’s prosperity and stability.

Yung urged people to heed Xi’s call for Hong Kong to set aside major differences and seek broad common ground in order to have rational discussions on social issues.

Starry Lee Wai-king, a Hong Kong lawmaker and chairwoman of the city’s largest political group — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong — attended the new-term government’s inauguration ceremony on July 1.

Lee said Xi’s remarks during the swearing-in ceremony stressed the importance of having a correct understanding of the relationship between One Country and Two Systems.

She said some people in Hong Kong in recent years held misconceptions about the relationship — and about how to handle relations between the mainland and Hong Kong.

President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan bid farewell at Hong Kong International Airport on July 1, after a three-day visit to the city marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China and inaugurating its fifth-term government. Credit: Edmond Tang / China Daily

During his visit to the city, the president cautioned that any attempt to challenge the One Country, Two Systems principle or undermine national sovereignty is an act that crossed the red line, Lee said.

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, was also at the ceremony. She noted that Xi’s remarks showed there are plenty of opportunities for Hong Kong to boost development and its international prestige with the unique advantages of One Country, Two Systems.

The business sectors also expressed appreciation of Xi’s successful visit to Hong Kong, saying it has given the city a direction to grow its economy.

On July 1, the president attended the signing ceremony of the framework agreement on development of the 11-city cluster of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Local business-oriented political group Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong expressed gratitude that Xi’s visit identified a clear role for Hong Kong in the development of the Greater Bay Area.

In a statement issued on July 1, the alliance noted the framework agreement on development of the Greater Bay Area is of significant importance to Hong Kong, as it has given the city a new blueprint for development and a new engine of economic growth.

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Lam can take HK to ‘new heights’ President reaffirms central government’s unwavering support and high hopes for CE and HKSAR Government

July 3-9, 2017
By SHADOW LI in Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping on July 1 expressed confidence that Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive can lead the city to achieving new heights in economic development.

At a meeting with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor shortly after she was sworn in as the leader of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s fifth-term administration, Xi said “great responsibilities and a glorious mission” have fallen on Lam’s shoulders, and Hong Kong people and the central government have high expectations of her.

He urged Lam to implement the One Country, Two Systems principle in a comprehensive and accurate manner.

Reaffirming the central government’s unwavering support for Lam and the new HKSAR Government in administering Hong Kong according to law and carrying on the great cause of One Country, Two Systems, the president hoped Lam will earnestly carry out her duties as Chief Executive and safeguard the authority of the country’s Constitution and the HKSAR’s Basic Law.

Xi also told Lam to try to further develop the economy, improve people’s livelihood and maintain the city’s prosperity and stability.

Lam said Xi’s visit showed the central government’s support for the HKSAR, adding that the president’s remarks during his three-day stay in Hong Kong will boost confidence in the SAR’s future.

“It’s with a humble heart that I accept this greatest honor of my life and prepare to take on the greatest challenge in my public service career,” Lam said at the inauguration ceremony.

She pointed out that Hong Kong must cherish the opportunities offered by the nation’s development. “As we capitalize on our strengths and harness the opportunities presented by our country’s development, Hong Kong’s future is indeed bright and promising,” she said.

After their meeting, Lam accompanied Xi to meet key members of Hong Kong’s executive, legislative and judicial bodies.

Calling them the “key few” — a term Xi has used to refer to leading officials at the central, provincial/ministerial and local levels — the president said they constitute the “core force” in implementing One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law, and in administering Hong Kong.

He urged the Hong Kong officials to position themselves at the national level when at work and dealing with problems, protect national sovereignty, security and development interests, and perform their duties to the nation.

The president called on them to face up to the challenges and take initiatives to ensure comprehensive and accurate implementation of One Country, Two Systems, resolve conflicts and difficulties involving the economy and people’s livelihood, improve youth education on national history and culture, and work together to curb “Hong Kong independence” activities to safeguard the overall stability and interest of Hong Kong.

Principal officials of the fifth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region take their oaths before President Xi Jinping (right), while newly installed Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (second right) looks on, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 1. Credit: Xu Jingxing / China Daily

In her swearing-in address, Lam also expressed concern that the internal rift in Hong Kong society, if unhealed, may cost Hong Kong the opportunities to move forward.

Another challenge to her administration, she said, is to improve the executive-legislature relationship that has been sabotaged by those putting personal grudges over objective facts. That has hindered the SAR government’s governing effectiveness and Hong Kong’s economic and social progress, Lam said.

Xi encouraged Lam’s team to carry out and improve the executive-led system with the Chief Executive as its core, and deal with the relationship between the executive and legislative bodies properly to ensure the government’s smooth and effective governance.

President cites gems of ancient wisdom Xi’s three classical quotes encourage key figures in city’s government, legislature and judiciary

July 3-9, 2017
By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping spoke of the central government’s considerable expectations while also offering encouragement to the new Chief Executive and key figures in the government, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

The president did this by citing three classical Chinese quotes. These gems of Chinese wisdom are:

  1. “Serve the country with a sincere heart”

This line is from a poem, My Emotions on the Beginning of Spring, by a patriotic official and poet from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Yu Qian.

The poem reflects Yu’s desire to serve his country. He had sacrificed a great deal of time that could have been spent with his family. This made him feel sad but his dedication to the nation remained resolute.

By quoting Yu Qian, Xi was encouraging the “key few” involved in implementing the One Country, Two Systems principle and the Basic Law, and in administering Hong Kong. They needed to view things from a national perspective when carrying out their work and facing difficult challenges. This would help them fulfill their duties to the nation.

  1. “It is a shame if an official always avoids things”

Xi was quoting Zeng Guofan, a famous Chinese statesman, military general and Confucian scholar of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Zeng stressed that officials must never avoid shouldering tough responsibilities. Indeed, it was shameful if they were not fully committed to their duties.

Xi noted that being a government official in Hong Kong is “not easy” as they will have to face tough challenges and controversies in a diverse society.

He hoped they would all be responsible and resolute when tackling different problems.

  1. “The army that is driven by the same spirit throughout all its ranks wins”

Xi cited the sentence from The Art of War, a revered ancient military text written by military strategist Sun Tzu during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Sun highlighted the importance of being united in wartime. He hoped the HKSAR leaders could work as a team to achieve their shared goals. They also needed to coordinate efforts and closely support one another.

‘HK can create new glory’ Xi’s visit affirms central government’s support for the people and One Country, Two Systems

July 3-9, 2017
By AN BAIJIE in Hong Kong

The central government will as always support Hong Kong in growing its economy and improving the people’s livelihoods, President Xi Jinping said on June 29 during his trip to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

The president’s remarks received positive feedback from the Hong Kong public, with many people expressing their confidence in a better future.

Arriving at the airport, Xi told reporters his three-day Hong Kong trip showcased the central government’s support for Hong Kong, which has offered its strong backing for the past 20 years.

“I believe that through the series of events to be staged in Hong Kong, our determination and confidence in developing and building a better Hong Kong will surely be enhanced,” he said.

Xi attended celebrations for the anniversary and the inauguration of the fifth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

July 1 marked the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return from British rule and the establishment of the HKSAR.

Xi congratulated the special administrative region on its great achievements over the 20 years since its establishment, and he encouraged the HKSAR to create new glory.

He also said he would join people from all walks of life in Hong Kong to review the HKSAR’s extraordinary 20-year journey, sum up its experience and plan the future to ensure the smooth and long-term successful practice of the One Country, Two Systems policy.

“I’m pleased to have set foot in Hong Kong once again after nine years,” Xi said. “Hong Kong’s development has always pulled at my heartstrings.”

President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrive at Hong Kong International Airport on June 29. Xi made a three-day visit to the special administrative region. Credit: Edmond Tang / China Daily

Xi’s last trip to Hong Kong was in July 2008, when he was the vice-president of China. He visited two local families and talked with the residents about housing prices, mortgage loans and incomes.

The president received a warm welcome and appreciation from the public. Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the president’s visit has shown the central government’s support for Hong Kong and the special attention to the One Country, Two Systems principle.

She expressed gratitude to Xi for his wishes for Hong Kong. The central government’s continuous support for One Country, Two Systems has helped and will enhance Hong Kong’s cooperation with mainland cities and provinces, which will push forward Hong Kong’s development, Lee said.

She said the president’s call to plan for the future should be seen as a reminder for Hong Kong people to consider how the city can boost its competitiveness.

Irons Sze Wing-wai, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, said that Xi’s inspection visit was an affirmation of Hong Kong’s successful implementation of One Country, Two Systems.

“I hope that the visit by President Xi will further advance the economic ties and trade cooperation between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, enabling Hong Kong to get aboard the nation’s high-speed development train, and join the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” he said.

Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect Asia with Africa and Europe through an infrastructure and trade grid along the historical Silk Road routes.

Luis Liu and Shadow Li in Hong Kong contributed to this story.

Deal signed for Palace Museum in Hong Kong Treasures of the Forbidden City will be displayed in the SAR’s new cultural district, currently being built in Kowloon

July 3-9, 2017
By LUO WANGSHU in Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing on June 29 of a cooperation agreement between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Beijing’s Palace Museum for the development of the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

The ceremony was held in the West Kowloon Cultural District on the first day of the president’s three-day visit to Hong Kong.

Once the museum is built, treasures from Beijing’s Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, will be displayed there. Under the agreement, the cultural district and the Beijing museum will cooperate on exhibitions, staff training and cultural communication.

President Xi Jinping (left) appreciates a Cantonese Opera presentation by two young performers on June 29 with outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (second left) and incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (third left) at the West Kowloon Cultural District. Credit: Provided to China Daily

The agreement was signed by Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Hong Kong’s chief secretary for administration and chairman of the board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, and Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum.

Before the ceremony, Xi was briefed on the progress of the West Kowloon Cultural District, including site selection and building plans for the Hong Kong Palace Museum, as well as projects currently under construction.

The district is an important cultural project in Hong Kong. It envisions 17 cultural and art buildings, including the Hong Kong Palace Museum and the Xiqu Centre, which will promote traditional Chinese opera. The opera center is expected to open late next year.

“The West Kowloon Cultural District has been an important project through several terms of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s government. It will provide a cultural and entertainment platform to benefit local people, while boosting Hong Kong’s cultural and creative industry,” Xi said.

It will also enrich the culture of Hong Kong as an international metropolis, enhancing the city’s charm as a combination of Eastern and Western culture, he said.

He expressed his hope that Hong Kong would promote Chinese traditional culture and serve as a platform for communication between East and West, while also enhancing cultural exchanges with the mainland.

During his visit to the district, Xi listened to two local children performing Cantonese Opera and praised them for their excellence. He said he was “very glad to see how much you love Cantonese Opera”.

“This shows that Hong Kong has no lack of successors in opera to maintain the vitality of traditional Chinese arts,” Xi said.

Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the SAR government has made great efforts to protect Cantonese Opera, including setting up a special foundation and building the Xiqu Centre.

Also on June 29, first lady Peng Liyuan visited Hong Kong’s Yau Yat Chuen School, accompanied by Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, wife of Leung Chun-ying, whose term as the SAR’s chief executive ended on June 30.

Young called nation’s future President praises police group for helping to guide HK’s youth

July 3-9, 2017
By AN BAIJIE in Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping called on the students and young people in Hong Kong to be prepared to make more contributions to the special administrative region as well as the country, as he visited a training center for a police youth group on June 30.

“The youngsters are the future of the nation,” Xi told the students at a training camp for the Junior Police Call (JPC).

Noting that he attaches great importance to the development of young people, Xi encouraged them to seize opportunities, choose the right path in their lives, serve society and contribute more to Hong Kong and the country.

The Junior Police Call, a nonprofit organization established in 1974, organizes physical training, volunteer activities and police station tours for youths. More than 1 million young people have been trained by the JPC since its establishment. It has an important role in justice and patriotism education for the youth of Hong Kong.

The president was briefed by JPC members on the aims of the group’s programs, its facilities and its training activities. He also watched physical training sessions and talked with JPC members.

After hearing about training projects, Xi said that all the activities at the JPC camp are “sunny” programs that can build youngsters’ bodies and minds.

“The young people should strengthen their bodies through joining such activities. You will have a good appetite after going home, and you will grow faster,” he told the trainees.

By attending such training programs, young people also acquire more knowledge about laws, and it helps them act in accordance with the law, Xi said.

President Xi Jinping visits the Junior Police Call Permanent Activity Center and International Training Camp on June 30. Credit: Provided to China Daily

The JPC’s membership has expanded rapidly over the years, and it now has over 180,000 members.

Its objectives include improving communication between the police and youth, fostering a police-youth partnership in the fight against crime, and developing young people’s sense of responsibility toward society.

Xi praised the efforts of the 30,000 police officers of Hong Kong to safeguard the region’s safety and social order. The prosperity and stability of Hong Kong are closely related to the diligent work of the police forces, he said.

It is a visionary move for Hong Kong police to be engaged in the training of youngsters, Xi said.

Also on June 30, Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, visited an elderly care center, where she spoke with seniors about their daily lives.

Peng joined the residents in making handicrafts at the center, and wished them a happy and healthy life.

Hong Kong’s celebrations shared globally Overseas Chinese join officials and others to mark event in Brussels, Washington and elsewhere

July 3-9, 2017

As the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland approached, Chinese embassies overseas were busy celebrating the event.

On the night of June 29 in Brussels, a group of 150 European officials, diplomats and overseas Chinese joined in an anniversary event to praise the progress of the special administrative region (SAR) in the past two decades.

The Chinese Mission to the European Union and China’s embassy in Belgium joined with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels to organize the celebration.

Yang Yanyi, China’s ambassador to the EU, said that Hong Kong’s return to China was a historic event, and the One Country, Two Systems principle has ensured the major accomplishments the SAR has seen.

“Under the principle, Hong Kong people have administered Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy that has been successfully implemented over the past 20 years,” Yang said at the celebration.

She said Hong Kong has remained one of the world’s most competitive and dynamic international financial trade and shipping centers and has contributed uniquely to reform and opening-up and the modernization of the Chinese mainland.

It has been fully proved that One Country, Two Systems is the best institutional arrangement for the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, she said.

In the United States, Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai also applauded the great success of Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong’s accomplishments are outstanding,” he told a crowd of several hundred people attending a celebration on June 29 at the Chinese embassy to mark the anniversary.

Cui said Hong Kong has seen sustained prosperity and stability, remained a global financial, trade and shipping center, and led the world in major indicators of social and economic development.

“Today, Hong Kong, the pearl of the East, is shining with ever brighter glory in the hands of the Chinese people,” Cui said.

He said that history has also shown the unbreakable bond and shared future of Hong Kong and the rest of the Chinese nation.

“The past 20 years have witnessed a prosperous and stable Hong Kong, as well as a fast-developing China. Hong Kong supported the growth of the mainland, while the mainland drove Hong Kong’s prosperity,” Cui said.

He emphasized that Hong Kong and the mainland stood together when facing financial crises in 1997 and 2007 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS epidemic in 2003, and they helped each other when struck by natural disasters.

“Indeed, Hong Kong’s interest is the interest of the motherland, and when the motherland grows, Hong Kong will prosper,” Cui said.

The Chinese embassy in Washington also marked the 20th anniversary with a photo exhibition.

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Deal signed on Greater Bay Area Framework to deepen ties between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to form urban cluster

July 3-9, 2017
By OSWALD CHAN in Hong Kong

Witnessed by President Xi Jinping during his three-day visit to Hong Kong, the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area was signed in the city on July 1.

The National Development and Reform Commission Chairman He Lifeng; Governor of the People’s Government of Guangdong Province Ma Xingrui; Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor; and Macao Chief Executive Chui Sai-on signed the framework agreement.

The framework agreement establishes key cooperation areas. These includes promoting infrastructure connectivity; enhancing the level of market integration; building a global technology and innovation hub; building a system of modern industries through coordinated development; jointly building a quality living circle to provide an ideal place for living, working and traveling; cultivating new strengths in international cooperation and supporting the establishment of major cooperation platforms, according to a government statement on July 1.

The agreement’s four signatories agree to improve the coordination mechanism and convene annual consultation meetings to coordinate and resolve major problems and issues of cooperation arising from development of the bay area.

The four parties will also put forward annual work plans to take forward development of the bay area. They will deliver a concerted effort in their implementation once a consensus has been reached among the four parties and relevant mainland authorities.

Premier Li Keqiang, in this year’s Government Work Report, explicitly expressed the need to promote closer cooperation between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, draw up a development plan for a city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, give full play to the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, and elevate their positions and roles in the nation’s economic development and opening-up.

President Xi Jinping witnesses the signing ceremony of the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area on July 1. The agreement’s four signatories are (from left, front row) Governor of Guangdong province Ma Xingrui; the National Development and Reform Commission Chairman He Lifeng; Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Macao Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on. Credit: Provided to China Daily

The Greater Bay Area — covering less than 1 percent of the country’s land area and home to less than 5 percent of the population — includes Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Foshan, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen.

The framework agreement also strives to cement Hong Kong’s hub status in various aspects, including consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international financial, transport and trade center; strengthening its status as a global offshore yuan business hub and an international asset management center; promoting the development of Hong Kong’s professional services and innovation and technology industries; and establishing a center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.

“With relatively higher market sophistication, the advantage of One Country, Two Systems, and competitiveness in building up clusters of production and industries, the economic aggregate of Greater Bay Area is poised to exceed the bay area of Tokyo to become the world’s largest economic cluster area by 2025,” predicted Yue Yi, vice-chairman and chief executive at Bank of China (Hong Kong).

Hong Kong: The connected city Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor writes One Country, Two Systems at the heart of SAR’s success

July 3-9, 2017

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region turned 20 (on July 1). It was a memorable day, not just for Hong Kong but for our entire country.

Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems framework has been at the heart of our success these past 20 years and it will power Hong Kong’s prosperity over the next 20 years and more.

Thanks to One Country, Hong Kong has benefited enormously from the Chinese mainland’s rapid rise as a global economic force and its unswerving commitment to our city and its people.

And the Two Systems has ensured that our international outlook, connections and exchanges have continued to grow and mature in all manner of areas, including commerce, finance, trade, culture and tourism.

Inspiring confidence

Nothing inspires cooperation more than confidence. In Hong Kong’s case, it is the rule of law that brings confidence to companies, large and small, from all over the world. The rule of law, together with the independence of our judiciary and the transparency of our legal system, reassures companies keen to trade with Hong Kong, to set up offices in Hong Kong.

They use Hong Kong as a regional base from which to target the boundless markets of the mainland and the rest of Asia.

Boosting business

Hong Kong’s free enterprise system is a perfect complement to the rule of law. Earlier this year, the United States-based Heritage Foundation named Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy — for the 23rd year in a row — in its annual “Index of Economic Freedom” report. Among the report’s 12 measured components, Hong Kong ranked first in Fiscal Health, Trade Freedom and Financial Freedom among the 180 economies covered in the report.

The foundation also recognized Hong Kong’s high-quality legal framework, low tolerance for corruption, efficient regulatory framework and open markets.

There’s more behind our “wide open for business” sign. Hong Kong attracts a world of companies — nearly 8,000 at last count, including 75 of the world’s largest banks — thanks to its free flow of information and talent, minimal red tape, level playing field for business and low and simple tax regime.

It’s no wonder that the World Competitiveness Yearbook has ranked Hong Kong No 1 in the world for the past two years in a row. The yearbook is an annual publication of the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development.

Hong Kong finished fourth among the easiest places to do business in the World Bank’s “Doing Business Report 2017”.

Raising capital

We’re certainly among the easiest cities in the world to raise capital. Our stock market has topped the world in initial public offerings for the past two years. It’s also enabling Hong Kong’s gateway role to mainland markets, while smoothing the way for mainland investors to invest in Hong Kong-listed companies. Indeed, more than 1,000 mainland companies are listed on our stock exchange. They account for more than 60 percent of its total market capitalization.

The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, which debuted last December, and the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, launched in 2014, are further expanding our financial cross-fertilization with the mainland.

There’s more on the way from Stock Connect. Bond Connect is expected to be launched later this year on a trial basis.

We have also been central to the yuan’s rise as a global currency. Indeed, Hong Kong is the world’s biggest offshore yuan hub, managing 70 percent of global offshore yuan payments. And the Mainland-Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds Arrangement, set in motion two years ago, has only expanded our yuan fund offerings.

Connecting the world

We are, in short, both China’s international financial center and the world’s China financial center. Alongside the financial sector, Hong Kong is blessed with an enviable pool of multi-talented, multilingual services professionals: Bankers, lawyers, consultants, accountants, advertising and communications specialists, and much more.

Working together, they attract a continuing flow of capital, information, talent, business and market opportunities. Together, they make Hong Kong the “super-connector” between the mainland and the rest of the world.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (second right) and her husband Lam Siu-por (third right) greet the public at Golden Bauhinia Square on July 1. Credit: Information Services Department

Driving the Belt and Road

It’s why Hong Kong is destined to play a key role in the mainland’s far-reaching Belt and Road Initiative. We have the experience, and the expertise, to be the Belt and Road’s fundraising and information management center. Equally important, we have the connections — deep and multi-layered — to serve as a Belt and Road hub for the mainland and the nations that have embraced its vast promise.

It helps, too, that we are strategically located in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the heart of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The mainland’s most prosperous region, the bay area extends to 66 million people in 11 cities. The emerging regional cooperation initiative presents huge, largely untapped, prospects for Hong Kong, particularly in financial and professional services. A development plan for the bay area is in the works, and Hong Kong will, rest assured, play a central role in the collective rise of this redoubtable region.

Connecting the community

Our ability to connect, with the mainland and the world beyond, will define our future. But the vast promise they offer can only be grasped by a united Hong Kong; a connected Hong Kong.

That job, connecting Hong Kong, will be at the heart of my mandate and the fifth-term government I lead. Connecting means listening, caring and responding, to the community at large.

It means ensuring that ours is an inclusive and harmonious society, that we make housing, and land supply, a central commitment. That we put a renewed priority on poverty alleviation, care for the elderly and support for the disadvantaged.

A connected community is a dynamic community. And I believe we can create more opportunities by asking for less, which is why I plan to introduce a two-tier profits’ tax system.

I’m determined to reduce the tax burden on our small, medium and startup enterprises. They are, after all, the backbone of Hong Kong’s commercial and trading success.

Educating for tomorrow

Opportunity begins with our youth, blessed with an enviable mix of local and international cultural smarts, with curiosity, energy and endless creativity. It is up to us to help them discover their inimitable gifts, to lead Hong Kong, and the world, gainfully, through this 21st century of outsized opportunity.

It’s why education receives the biggest share among all policy areas. Under my government, it will become even larger. I have already consulted stakeholders in education on how to spend wisely the HK$5 ($640 million) billion a year additional recurrent expenditure I promised during election on education. Education is also critical to the development of tomorrow’s Hong Kong, an innovative and diverse economy powered by technology, by transportation and logistics, by the creative industries, tourism and more.

If we are to cash in on our advantages in these and other fast-emerging sectors, we will require a great variety of specialists, specialist training and dedicated facilities. I will ensure that we deliver the education the people of Hong Kong need and deserve.

City of life

A connected city is smart and sustainable, full of life and history. And I am determined to see Hong Kong rise as Asia’s green city.

That includes beautifying Victoria Harbour, making our landmark harborfront accessible and universally arresting.

Speaking of harborfronts, my government will fast-track the development of our West Kowloon Cultural District which occupies a 40-hectare prime waterfront site.

Hong Kong’s culture has long been graced by a beguiling blend of East-West traditions and trends. You see it, delight in it, in our festivals, in our film industry, in our more than 1,000 arts groups.

The West Kowloon Cultural District is destined to become a dazzling international arts and entertainment destination. And that can only underline Hong Kong’s role as a major arts and cultural hub.

Heritage, whether tangible or intangible, plays a key part in our distinct city fabric and much treasured traditions. Century-old historic buildings are preserved or revitalized into interesting facilities ranging from hotel to design hub.

Hong Kong’s social calendar is filled with festivals of different sorts, which are welcomed by local people and visitors.

A Hong Kong that is connected, that is creative, open and united, full of purpose and promise, will surely reap a rewarding future. Over these next five years, I look forward to leading my team of political officials and the civil service to realize that future.

The author is Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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