Business leader confident of Hong Kong's economic prospect

作者:未知 来源:中国国际广播电台 2017-06-22 我要评论( )

July 1st marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Starting from today, we are broadcasting a series of reports concerning the lives and careers of people from different circles in Hong Kong.

A business leader in Hong Kong is suggesting the city become more active in national and regional economic programs to ensure Hong Kong remains vibrant, as it has been in the years since its return to China.

Jonathan Choi is the chair of the Hong Kong-based Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.

An eyewitness to the handover ceremony transferring sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, Choi has been pondering business prospects in Hong Kong ever since.

Twenty years on, Jonathan Choi argues Hong Kong's business environment is getting better, with his own business evolving from a seafood company in Hong Kong to a large conglomerate with footprints in sectors such as real estate, finance and technology on the mainland.

He says the "One Country, Two Systems" policy is the major reason behind Hong Kong's success.

The concept of "One Country, Two Systems" was formulated by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

It stipulates that Hong Kong's current social and economic systems would remain untouched after 1997.

Choi says it's that pledge which has helped cement Hong Kong's status as an international financial and trade center.

"As part of China, Hong Kong keeps a close bond with the mainland. Since the inception of reform and opening-up in late 1970s, Hong Kong has always been the top investor for the rest of the country. At present, with the growing economic prowess of the mainland, increasing capital flows. Hong Kong continues to serve as a major platform in this process."

Jonathan Choi also points at two specific moves by Beijing which have helped maintain Hong Kong's economic strength.

"The biggest assistance from the central authorities to Hong Kong is the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA. That is because in 2003 when SARS came, many believed Hong Kong economy would go nowhere. The deal rekindled our hope for a bright future; the other thing is the decision to allow mainland individuals to travel to Hong Kong. That helped boosted local tourism, as well as retail and catering sectors."

Through the CEPA, the mainland imported 9.7 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods from Hong Kong between 2006 and early 2016, with zero tariffs on all Hong Kong products.

The deal also witnesses the thriving of Hong Kong's service sector, which now account for more than 17 percent of the mainland's total service trade.

In 2016 alone, more than 42 million mainlanders travelled to Hong Kong.

That number was only about 2.4 million back in 1997.

Despite these achievements, Jonathan Choi does admit there are dangers still facing Hong Kong's economy, notably high land prices, a consistent labor shortage and an aging population.

He suggests the central government's Belt and Road initiative is one way to overcome these challenges.

"In order to consolidate Hong Kong's international status, we need to make the most of the Belt and Road Initiative. In the past half century, Hong Kong has kept contacts with many of the countries along the route. I think Hong Kong has a role to play in this concept put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013"

Jonathan Choi is also a keen advocate of regional integration within the Pearl River Delta.

A member for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, Choi has submitted several proposals on building up the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

"Right now Guangdong is the top GDP contributor in the mainland, and the development of nine cities in the province is impressive. Therefore, Hong Kong should try to align its development strategy with its neighbor, including areas such as infrastructure, human resources, logistics and capital. After this becomes a reality, then the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area will be the Chinese equivalent to places such as San Francisco, New York and Tokyo."

In his government work report delivered to China's top legislature in March, Premier Li Keqiang has confirmed that a plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is being studied.

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