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Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

Why the doom and gloom over Hong Kong is misguided

Why the doom and gloom over Hong Kong is misguided

Through liaison office director’s message, the central government has shown it believes it is in everyone’s best interest to maintain the status quo in Hong Kong. Despite the geopolitical challenges, the city has a real chance to play a global role – if it is proactive.

There is a sense among some in the international community that Hong Kong is somehow losing its relevance and perhaps changing for the worse. Our three-year hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic and the period of social unrest before that attracted a great deal of global media coverage. This has fuelled the negative sentiment around the city that continues today.

Some observers seem to have forgotten Hong Kong’s rich history as one of the world’s top trading economies and an international financial and commercial hub, one that serves China, Asia and the rest of the world.

Our prosperity since the handover is a clear reflection of the successful implementation of “one country, two systems” framework. It provides a unique, valuable and distinct economic advantage whether viewed from a local, regional or international perspective.

The consensus is that since the city reopened its borders, Hong Kong is back and better than ever despite some sectors continuing to struggle to overcome the effects of a period of sustained global economic uncertainty. This was evident when I recently joined an international forum with some of our most prominent intellectuals, business and government leaders.

They were invited to share their experiences and re-evaluate Hong Kong’s path towards sustainable economic and social progress in a somewhat fractured post-pandemic world. It was reassuring to hear from distinguished speakers from the world of art and culture as well as financial services, sport, technology and more, all saying that Hong Kong’s future looks brighter than ever. Progress is being made in important, high-value sectors.

The single most important takeaway from that day was the message from Zheng Yanxiong, the director of central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong. Throughout his address he reiterated the vital role Hong Kong has played and will continue to play in China’s modernisation.

He provided clarity on a vision for the future and reiterated the core principles former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping outlined when he identified that Hong Kong’s true value would remain deeply enshrined in our unique international identity. Deng understood that a second system was needed to support the modernisation of China, and that philosophy remains firmly in place today.

Through this message from the director of the liaison office, the central government shows it believes it is in everyone’s best interests to maintain the status quo.

Zheng Yanxiong, director of the central government’s liaison office, speaks via video link at the Our Hong Kong Foundation’s International Forum on Progress Through Collaboration at the Conrad Hotel in Admiralty on April 17.

There is no desire for Hong Kong to begin to resemble cities on the mainland or to change our language, customs, traditions or way of life under the common law system. We are simply being asked to learn more about Chinese history and culture so we have greater empathy and understanding.

Hong Kong will continue to be defined by the attributes which lie within our identity, unique system and international status. These elements underpin our relevance, and will enable us to fulfil our potential and continue to be the bridge between China, our regional neighbours and the broader international community.

Zheng addressing the forum was a significant moment for the city, but it received surprisingly little international media attention. Some aspects were perhaps lost in translation, but even so it is still evidence of the increasingly important role Hong Kong can and will play for the country.

We in Hong Kong have much to look forward to despite the geopolitical challenges that lie ahead. We are an important component of the Greater Bay Area, and we have a valuable role to play in the Belt and Road Initiative as it tries to reinvigorate the seamless flow of capital, goods and services between Asia and the rest of the world.

Southeast Asia has become an increasingly important trade partner for Hong Kong in recent years, and this growing relationship must be carefully nurtured at a highly sensitive time in international relations. The city also stands to gain many benefits when it eventually joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest free-trade bloc.

However, maintaining our unique identity and role will require working even harder. We must have the confidence to engage in and collaborate on critical regional and global issues that affect each of us and, more importantly, future generations.

Hong Kong can drive discussion, debate and collaborate with international partners on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development and social governance. Similarly, diversity, equity and inclusion is a critical area where joint international efforts will have the greatest impact.

We are at a moment in time where we have a real opportunity to contribute to global affairs, but we must be proactive and collectively progress through collaboration.


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