HK should contribute to nation’s drive for common prosperity

As it happened, the amendments to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China included the pursuit of “common prosperity” in the guiding document. Again, the CPC is making history, both for its countrymen and the world. 

It is a significant move and a remarkable milestone for the party in its centennial history of serving the people by modernizing the nation through practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. Upon establishment, the CPC aimed at revitalizing the then-poor and weak country, and turning it into an equal and fair society that stands firm with socialism and pays due respect to the nation’s distinctive historical and cultural traits.

Hong Kong, the first special administrative region of the nation, cannot afford to stand back with arms folded while wailing for the lost opportunities. The SAR should dovetail its plans and tap its potential to serve its best for the nation’s common prosperity by faithfully implementing the game-changing innovative framework of “one country, two systems”.

Needless to say, the CPC’s success is remarkable: China’s GDP swelled to $17.7 trillion in 2021, from merely $150 billion in 1978. A middle-class population of 400 million and standing as the world’s second-largest economy speaks for itself.

That said, the initial step of the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous pursuit to “get rich”, a motto that inspired the Chinese people to seek individual well-being, has achieved its aims by and large. But when shall we take the next step to help the disadvantaged and support the less-developed regions to prosper? General Secretary Xi Jinping gave the answers at the 20th National Party’s Congress which launched a new stage of common prosperity for the entire Chinese nation.

The CPC, as the ruling Party, is embarking on a new historic mission to seek prosperity for all, and expectedly, a series of relevant policies are in the pipeline for the years to come. If achieved, this could be the greatest accomplishment of all time in our nation, as well as the world.

Hong Kong, with the city’s poorest making 47 times less than its richest residents, should waste no time jumping into the noble cause of pursuing prosperity for all. What can Hong Kong do in the process? That’s something we should think about now.

First, all business sectors more or less have a moral obligation and social responsibility to achieve this significant mission. As a key beneficiary of the reform and opening-up policy and the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong businesses got their once-in-a-lifetime development opportunities in the Chinese mainland market to expand and nurture their entrepreneurship.

With the boost from the mainland, many Hong Kong firms can wield their strength both at home and abroad and thus become internationally recognized. Isn’t it the companies’ social responsibility to return the goodwill to help alleviate poverty and aid the less fortunate in the vast motherland?

With the boost from the mainland, many Hong Kong firms can wield their strength both at home and abroad and thus become internationally recognized. Isn’t it the companies’ social responsibility to return the goodwill to help alleviate poverty and aid the less fortunate in the vast motherland

And that is also in the firms’ best interest. History serves as a persuasive reference in this respect. After rapid economic growth, a stronger mainland in return provided the best boost for the SAR’s economy. With the momentum of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, Hong Kong’s GDP has more than doubled in the past quarter-century to reach US$366 billion in 2021, from US$177 billion in 1997 during the handover, according to government statistics. Per capita GDP also rose 80 percent to US$49,200 in 2021, from 1997’s US$27,330.

That perfectly demonstrates a wealthier mainland benefits all. When more people prosper, the nation will have larger overall spending power, which will create abundant business opportunities for Hong Kong companies and aid citizens to enjoy a much better lifestyle.

What can we do? First I believe Hong Kong firms should be more active in philanthropic projects on the mainland, especially in underdeveloped regions. The funds should go to improve infrastructure and utilities, and nurture business opportunities in those regions. By doing so, relevant companies would repay society in a targeted way, and it is also a great “reinvestment” for the big firms to build up the foundation that generates new waves of growth.

Second, Hong Kong firms should develop new and innovative business models, making full use of new technology and the market economy, to link up underdeveloped areas with wealthy and developed cities, including Hong Kong. For instance, with China’s omnipotent e-commerce network, some food companies are setting up plantations or breeding bases in those regions, capitalizing on untouched natural resources. They sell these unpolluted products directly to big-city customers at a relatively high price. This caters to both the aspirations of the people in the backward regions for economic development and the demands of urban dwellers for a healthy lifestyle, a perfect match for the two groups and a true realization of common prosperity.

Such models can be valuable references to other sectors, and it is certain that other innovative ideas will also come out during the process. With such efforts, Hong Kong businesses can make our own contributions to the nation’s great blueprint.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has its own poverty issues. According to government statistics in 2021, 1.7 million people, or about 25 percent of the city’s population, live in poverty, the highest rate since records began in 2009. And the limited living space is a double whammy, which made Hong Kong one of the worst cities for the less-fortunate to live in. If we allow this to continue, we not only fail the city’s people but are moving towards a bigger crisis of social instability and sustainability.

The government, without any doubt, must act in a more results-oriented approach to maximize the interests of the residents, especially the underprivileged. And all of society should also join the cause in various ways, to end the worsening scenario and work together to reach common prosperity.

As always, Hong Kong has been and will continue to be an integral part of the country, and hence should posture itself to lead the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The author is a member of the Guangdong Province Zhongshan City Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, executive vice-chairman of the Hong Kong CPPCC Youth Association, and vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Y Elites Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.