HK has opportunities and obligations as a ‘super connector’

The conclusion of the seventh Belt and Road Summit, co-hosted by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, marked the summit’s conclusion for the past week. 

The seventh Belt and Road Summit, with the theme “Heralding a New Chapter: Collaborate and Innovate”, drew more than 80 government and corporate officials. These executives shared their perspectives with the audience. During the summit, Vice-Premier Han Zheng stated that Hong Kong is critical to the Belt and Road Initiative. Hong Kong has the distinct benefit of being backed by the Chinese mainland and functioning as a conduit between the mainland and the rest of the globe. The vice-premier described Hong Kong’s advantageous position inside the Belt and Road Initiative and Hong Kong’s next stage of development. This was the second keynote talk given by a leader from the national level since the initial conference in 2016. This highlighted the central government’s continued support for Hong Kong as a crucial hub for promoting commerce and cooperation.

The phrase “one belt, one road” refers to the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” a new model of global cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping in September 2013. A long-term goal is for countries and areas along these two old economic corridors to collaborate closely. The Maritime and Land Silk Roads were vital in the past as conduits for the transfer of goods and ideas and exchanges between many cultures and civilizations. China launched the Belt and Road Initiative in the 21st century, relaunching the historical Silk Road to reestablish communication with several states in Eurasia and Africa. This was done to encourage mutual development. The collaboration’s objective was to create a more-extensive, more-intricately interwoven network that would give the old Silk Road new significance in the modern era. The Belt and Road Initiative includes several countries, each with its own language, culture, and political structure. Seeking common groundwhile respecting diversity is crucial for the initiative to thrive.

The Belt and Road connects the booming East Asian economic circle to the sophisticated European financial system. The Belt and Road Initiative will stretch through Asia, Europe and Africa. It is a vast project involving nearly 70 countries and regions and 4.4 billion people, almost 63 percent of the world’s total population. The economy is estimated to be worth $21 trillion, accounting for approximately 29 percent of the global GDP. The participating countries have diverse levels of economic growth and face various issues. Despite the cultural and economic diversity, all people in these nations, in my opinion, have the same goal of promoting development through cooperation and are yearning for a better way of life. The Belt and Road Initiative symbolizes the possibility of improved infrastructure, economic growth and trade expansion. The Belt and Road Initiative will provide a new push for China, Asia and the rest of the world to expand their respective commercial and economic sectors, improve people’s lives by lifting people out of poverty, and combat climate change to ensure a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative across nations and regions. Ongoing efforts are being undertaken to recover from the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, which has significantly impacted the global economy. While this is happening, governments worldwide are attempting to boost global international links and development to kick-start economic growth. Accelerating the building of the Belt and Road Initiative may contribute to economic growth, encourage regional economic cooperation, and promote world peace and development. These objectives can be met through increasing collaboration among countries and essential players. Hong Kong’s role as a super-connector for establishing partnerships, providing professional services and serving as a bridge between the mainland and the global market is vital to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. As one of the world’s most important commercial and financial centers, Hong Kong can live up to its image as a “super-connector,” with the distinct advantage afforded by the “one country, two systems” framework.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a methodical project that needs to be created cooperatively to promote shared prosperity via dialogue to fulfill the interests of everyone. Efforts should be made to accommodate the development goals of the nations along the Belt and Road. Faced with rising pressure to decouple from China, the Belt and Road Initiative enshrines the notion of multilateral cooperation. Hong Kong is a global hub located at the gateway between mainland Asia and Southeast Asia. Because of this, we are in the best position to contribute significantly to the initiative under “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong has the unique advantage of connecting our country to the rest of the world. During his talk, Han Zheng underlined optimism about Hong Kong’s future, which is directly related to Hong Kong’s unique status. Han Zheng proposed that: Hong Kong take the lead in strengthening pragmatic partnerships with co-constructing countries; improve professional service quality and strive to build a complete service platform for the Belt and Road Initiative; increase the number of people-to-people and cultural interactions along the Belt and Road and seek to strengthen people-to-people connections; and enhance contact with the mainland and actively participate in the national development strategy. These four proposals also highlight Hong Kong’s distinct advantages as an international metropolis with profound economic and cultural linkages to the region.

Hong Kong has a long history of connecting the East and the West. Hong Kong has long supported free markets and multilateralism. Our strengths in banking, professional services, innovation and technology can make a genuine difference in the lives of people in this region. The central government has consistently supported Hong Kong’s attempts to seize historical opportunities offered by national development and activities associated with national plans, such as the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative. Hong Kong needs to be more proactive in joining the Belt and Road Initiative since it is a great opportunity, and it is expected that the city will take advantage of it, turning it into a new economic driver. It is Hong Kong’s opportunity and obligation to promote Hong Kong’s unique position as a “super-connector” between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, making more significant contributions to the country’s great rejuvenation.

The author is a member of China Retold, vice-chairman of New People's Party Youth Committee, director of Hong Kong United Youth Association and a committee member of The Yelites Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily