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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Senior Beijing official urges Hong Kong to seize advantage of ‘superconnector’ role

Senior Beijing official urges Hong Kong to seize advantage of ‘superconnector’ role

Hong Kong’s rule of law and common law system among several advantages it has to attract foreign investment, says liaison office director Zheng Yanxiong.

Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong has urged the city to seize the advantages it has to play a crucial role in attracting foreign investment and also enhance itself as a “pivot point” for mainland Chinese enterprises going abroad.

This “superconnector” role between the mainland and the world was one of four advantages the city had, elevating its position in the country’s overall development, said Zheng Yanxiong, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, on Monday.

Liaison office director Zheng Yanxiong delivers remarks via video to the forum on Monday.

He also underscored the city’s unique attributes of its rule of law environment that were critical for business, its growing role as an international financial centre and its thriving cultural diversity.

Arguing cultural tolerance was “most conducive” to attracting global talent, investors and consumers, Zheng said Hong Kong should “maintain its characteristics of the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures”.

“Keep horse racing, dancing, investing in stocks, speaking foreign languages and having foreign names, to take the road of internationalisation,” he told a 500-strong audience on Monday at a forum on the new opportunities offered to Hong Kong under the “Chinese-style modernisation” – a new guiding maxim set out by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Hong Kong should make good use of its status as a cultural exchange platform to tell good stories about China to the world and enhance the influence of Chinese culture, he added.

Zheng also hailed the city’s rule of law and its common law system, which he said had allowed it to assist the mainland in expanding exchanges and deepening cooperation with the rest of the world.

“Hong Kong’s sound rule of law can provide useful reference for the construction of the mainland’s rule of law in the international community, and for mainland enterprises to connect with the international market,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zheng’s deputy, Lu Xinning, noted the “brain drain” Hong Kong experienced in recent years amid an emigration wave, but said she remained optimistic over the city’s “unparalleled overall advantages”.

That included the city’s common law system, the “one country, two systems” governing principle and its position of being backed by the mainland while also connecting to the rest of the world.

“If all these potentials can be unleashed, Hong Kong’s attractiveness to high-end talent will continue to increase, and eventually, it will win the competition for talent,” she said.

Lu said the recent measures taken by the city leader to lure talent had been “effective”, adding the city had “many other magnetic fields” to attract elites.

City leader John Lee Ka-chiu pledged that Hong Kong would make good use of the one country, two systems policy to make “an indispensable contribution” to the mainland and the international community.

Chief Executive John Lee delivers remarks by video to the forum.

On global connectivity, Lee said the city had signed free-trade agreements with 20 economies, and Hong Kong was seeking an early accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“For good reason. RCEP members last year accounted for 71 per cent of Hong Kong’s total merchandise trade and 46 per cent of our trade in services in 2021,” Lee said.

“No less important, Hong Kong can play a critical role in building regional economic integration through RCEP. We are, after all, the gateway connecting our motherland to the rest of the world.”

Lee told the forum that he would be leading a delegation comprising all Hong Kong Legco members to Greater Bay Area cities later this week to bolster communication and cooperation, which, he said, were important for the city’s integration into national development plans.

Monday’s forum, held in a hotel in Admiralty, was hosted by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a policy think-tank founded by Hong Kong’s former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Business leaders, government officials, and experts in regional affairs were present to share their views that Hong Kong could continue growing through collaboration with the international community.


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