Hong Kong cannot afford to lose more time playing wait-and-see while the global, national and regional situations are all changing rapidly. It must make up its mind and focus on integrating its development into the overall development strategy of the country, or lag further behind the Chinese mainland and probably some other regional economies in the economic recovery. Considering the fact that the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) is already underway and includes tailor-made policy perks for Hong Kong and Macao to enjoy by playing a proactive role in it, as explained in detail by a delegation of central government officials from Beijing last month, Hong Kong will have only itself to blame if it misses the “train” this time.
The city was seriously hurt by sociopolitical unrest known as the “black revolution” in 2019. The violent turmoil was stopped by the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which was enacted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and became effective on June 30, 2020. The decisive measure was followed by another significant step in the form of amendments to Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region through local legislation earlier this year. Now that the first of three important elections has been held under the improved electoral system, Hong Kong is like a football player ready to join the action after recovering from a serious injury.
The delegation of central government officials attended a series of meetings and symposiums here in Hong Kong and answered questions raised by representatives of local communities. Throughout the exchanges, the central government officials reiterated many times that the national strategy of reform and opening-up remains unchanged, as does the “one country, two systems” principle and Beijing’s commitment to supporting Hong Kong in maintaining its status as a center of international finance, trade and transportation as well as in playing a significant role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. Such determination and commitment shows Beijing’s remarkable confidence in Hong Kong as well as the rest of the nation, but does the HKSAR have this much confidence in itself?
The central authorities have done a lot for Hong Kong in terms of providing development opportunities, which are waiting for Hong Kong to seize them if it has the wisdom and confidence to do so, because they are tailor-made for Hong Kong to put its unique strengths into full play. For example, the central government has adopted a “dual-circulation” growth pattern for economic growth in response to attempts by some developed economies to reverse the trend of globalization. The new growth pattern will let the domestic market play a greater role as compared with the export-oriented model in the previous 40 years or so. Hong Kong has the necessary experience and know-how to play a major role in the “internal circulation”, or domestic market, especially in high-end professional services according to international market rules and standards. That is why the central government is committed to supporting Hong Kong’s status as a center of international finance, trade and transportation services.
In order to join the “action” after recovery, Hong Kong needs to be prepared for tough “battles” ahead, especially where nothing short of its best will do to succeed. As one of the four “core growth engines” in the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong must be willing and ready to give as well as take if it wants to live up to its billing or status. Its expertise in financial, consumer and technology and innovation services should be put into full play in the Greater Bay Area to maintain its key position and thrive alongside Macao and the nine Guangdong cities. Hong Kong should make the Greater Bay Area its “home base” for future development and growth.
The 14th Five-Year Plan is a crucial period in the nation’s pursuit of the second centennial goal of becoming a developed modern society by the time the People’s Republic of China celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2049, after achieving the first one of becoming a moderately prosperous society by eliminating abject poverty before the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China this past July 1. In order to take the opportunities created by the national development program, Hong Kong must join hands with its counterparts in the mainland to play its unique role to the fullest because it won’t find such opportunities anywhere else. As Luo Huining, director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in the HKSAR, recently pointed out, the Chinese mainland offers far more business opportunities than any other economy in the world does; and Hong Kong has no reason not to seize as many of them as it can.
The author is senior research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.