Hong Kong’s role in opening up Chinese economy to ‘non-replaceable’ world, key Beijing official tells investors

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Hong Kong’s role in opening up China’s economy to the world is “very special” and can never be replaced, a senior Beijing official said, while seeking to reassure investors that the national security law imposed on the city last year only served to stabilize the business environment.

Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau, who is in town to promote China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, also urged the city to be more proactive in both helping and integrate into the country’s development.

At a summit on Tuesday co-hosted by the Hong Kong Chinese Business Association and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Huang noted that there were still concerns among investors about the business development of the city and its participation in national policies amid what he called a “fairly complicated external environment”.

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Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau, spoke with Hong Kong business leaders on Tuesday. Photo: Handout

He reiterated China’s determination to continue to open up its economy despite the rise of unilateralism and protectionism around the world.

“Hong Kong’s status and function in reforming and opening up the country is very particular. He has made a huge contribution and his role is not replaceable, ”Huang told the audience. “The role of the city in the reform of the country will not be weakened, but only strengthened.

Huang also argued that the imposition of the National Security Law last June, which affected some chambers of commerce and prompted the United States to impose sanctions on Chinese officials, had in fact made the environment for Hong Kong business more stable and better protected citizens’ rights and freedoms.

This year’s United Nations World Investment Report, which ranks Hong Kong as the third largest foreign direct investment economy, reaffirmed the city’s status as an international financial center, he said. he said, which should reassure investors about the city’s future.

“Central government support to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a free port and separate customs territory… and policies to protect the legal rights of investors in Hong Kong will not be changed,” Huang said.

Hong Kong must make up for lost time on economic development, Beijing official says

He also urged Hong Kong and Macao, China’s two special administrative regions, to be more proactive in helping the process of opening up the country, integrating into its development plan and facilitating communication with foreigners.

Speaking at the same summit, Zhou Chengjun, director of the Financial Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China, revealed that the cross-border Wealth Management Connect program, an initiative to facilitate investment by residents of the Grande Baie region, would be “launched very soon”.

Bank of East Asia co-managing director Brian Li Man-bun, who was also present at the forum, said his bank has recruited 300 frontline staff in the Bay Area in preparation for launching more cross-border investment tools.

Finance Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, meanwhile, said the country’s latest five-year plan made Hong Kong’s role in China’s development much clearer, and the Bay Area plan offered the best way to seize the opportunities brought by “dual circulation”, by giving priority to national markets and local innovation in a context of global economic instability.

Lam administration praised for “stabilizing” the company and its efforts to solve deeply rooted problems

“[The five-year plan] provides the best path for Hong Kong to integrate into national development, ”he said. “Hong Kong will deepen and expand access to mainland financial markets and make better use of our own advantages.”

Huang’s high-level delegation, made up of Beijing officials and financial experts, are expected to stay in the city until Wednesday, when they are expected to meet with local youth groups.

The delegation, which also includes representatives from the National Development and Reform Commission, as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, held two separate sessions on Monday to brief government officials and lawmakers on the five-year plan.

Finance Secretary Paul Chan and Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the State Council's office in Hong Kong and Macau, at the summit.  Photo: Handout

Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the State Council’s office in Hong Kong and Macao, at the summit. Photo: Handout

As part of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, officially adopted in March, Beijing pledged to support the city in strengthening its status as an international center for financial, maritime, commercial and legal services. He also pledged to encourage the city to develop new roles, such as becoming an international aviation and technology hub, as well as a hub for intellectual property trade and artistic exchanges and cultural.

Separately, during a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said her administration would be proactive in fully implementing the national plan and had submitted guidance documents to the central government regarding the most of these areas.

She added that she had visited the city’s eight government-funded universities and met with arts and culture groups to discuss how to build on the support provided by Beijing.

“I will explain the relevant work in more detail in the 2021 political speech,” she said, referring to the government’s annual strategic plan, which is due to be announced in October.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung

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