Hong Kong will miss the boat if it continues to hold itself back and does not cherish the new opportunities in the Great Bay Area, and it will not only be marginalized, but may even be reduced to a second-rate city in the future.
Policy Address commendable
Witnessed by President Xi Jinping, the National Development and Reform Commission signed with Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Great Bay Area on 1 July. The Policy Address dedicated specific sections to spell out the Great Bay Area development plan. Although the plan was covered in as short as two paragraphs, the opportunities arising from the Great Bay Area permeated the key areas of the Policy Address, including innovation and technology (I&T), creative industries, professional services and personnel training.
Avoid indulging in global rankings
As the country attaches great importance to the Great Bay Area’s development, with Hong Kong included in the plan, I hope the HKSAR Government and Hong Kong society will make adequate preparation in thought and action to work hand-in-hand to coordinate and develop with the Great Bay Area cities to introduce I&T industries in order to establish Hong Kong’s unique role and positioning in the Great Bay Area. However, since an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost, Hong Kong will miss the boat if it continues to hold itself back and does not cherish the new opportunities in the Great Bay Area. Consequently, it will not only be marginalizd, but may even be reduced to a second-rate city in the future.
Hong Kong’s business environment has always been globally competitive, as underscored by various reports on global business environments and competitiveness. However, can Hong Kong be contented with its hard-won reputation and self-indulge in these rankings while forgetting to ride on the good momentum of the country’s development to scale new heights? My answer is: “No!” The traditional pillar industries are already facing competition and challenges from other economic systems, and red flags have been raised about their development. Coupled with the increasing risks and uncertainties in international monetary systems and the impactful influence of complex and ever-changing geopolitics on global capital flows, to fortify the foundation of the pillar industries, we need to capture the development opportunities in the Belt and Road and the Great Bay Area for a more diversified economic development and broaden our strengths in finance, logistics and professional services. For example, as Hong Kong is a global hub for offshore RMB settlement services, gradually loosening the RMB conversion limits will help increase RMB deposits. With regard to the proposal in the Policy Address to provide digital identity (eID) for all Hong Kong residents, the HKSAR Government may as well consider co-developing it with the Know-your-customer Utility (KYCU) of financial institutions to further open up to foreigners, thereby paving the way for Hong Kong to consolidate its status as the Great Bay Area’s financial center.
Make full use of G2G platform
Hong Kong’s trade and logistics industries are facing fierce competition in the international market. Although the Policy Address continued to propose identifying suitable land at different locations for logistics use, the biggest challenge is how to effectively integrate with the Great Bay Area’s development so as to reinforce Hong Kong’s position as an international shipping hub and intersection for people and material flows. Therefore, the HKSAR Government playing a new role as facilitator and promoter cannot be mere empty talk. It must make full use of the G2G platform to jointly develop the large-scale airports and seaports in Hong Kong and the Great Bay Area into sizeable global shipping and logistics centers.
In recent years, Hong Kong has often been mocked for lagging behind in I&T development. The Policy Address proposed doubling Hong Kong’s total R&D spending as a percentage of GDP, which although somewhat inadequate is still a beginning. The HKSAR Government’s proactive attitude is commendable. However, after devoting more resources, Hong Kong’s success in overcoming its backwardness in I&T development will depend on the HKSAR Government’s mindset and vision as well as how up to date its laws and regulations are. Also, how can civil servants’ awareness of international I&T development be heightened in order to break down the obstacles caused by regulations? A recent case is a very good example and worthwhile for the HKSAR government to reconsider. Earlier, a team of academic staff and students at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) successfully developed Hong Kong’s first driverless golf cart. As Hong Kong is already late to the game, it is a surprise that HKUST could not even get the Transport Department’s approval to test it on the road. I hope the Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology, which is led by the Chief Executive, can find ways to remove all restrictions and ease the way for I&T development, and leverage the Great Bay Area plan to get it started as soon as possible in order to avoid being marginalized.
Young people’s entrepreneurship and employment dream
Currently, 500,000, 250,000 and 15,000 Hong Kong people have relocated to, are working in and studying at institutes of higher learning in the Mainland, respectively. The development of a large-scale economic zone must be supported by a number of factors, including personnel, resources, space and communications. I&T development can help more young people get employed and young people’s start-up costs are lower. I believe the Great Bay Area’s huge market is able to help young people attain their dream of starting a business or getting employed. Nevertheless, it is not easy for young people to seek employment or start business in the Mainland. Apart from funding, young people face many difficulties as they are not familiar with the Mainland’s government organizations and work culture. The HKSAR Government should take the initiative to provide assistance to effectively encourage young people to start business or seek employment in the Great Bay Area.
Feel confident in engaging in development
Hong Kong’s financial, logistics, trade, professional services and creative industries can use the Great Bay Area for further development. The question is, are Hong Kong people willing to integrate into the Great Bay Area vision, or do they want to continue resting on their laurels and let the HKSAR be bypassed or overtaken by cities in the Mainland, and eventually be marginalized? On the strength of the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong should have the confidence in using the Great Bay Area to propel its economy forward. Therefore, I urge Hong Kong society and my fellow LegCo colleagues to collaborate in making the pie bigger by participating in and making good the Great Bay Area’s development so that 9 + 2 is greater than 11.
This is a free translation. For the exact meaning of the article, please refer to the Chinese version.
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