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Monday, July 17, 2017, 11:22
Opportunities which SAR must not miss
By Eddy Li
Monday, July 17, 2017, 11:22 By Eddy Li

Eddy Li says President Xi’s speech should be seen as an important wakeup call for people in HK to make the most of future opportunities offered by the nation’s development plans

President Xi Jinping recently visited Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return from Britain back to China as well as to inaugurate the fifth-term SAR government. During his three-day visit, he delivered several speeches for different occasions. All of these were important as they reflected the central government’s attitude toward future implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy.

In interpreting this principle, the president called for a correct understanding of the relationship between “one country” and “two systems”: Sabotaging the prerequisite of “one country” is clearly an act that crosses a“red line”. We should always remember that“two systems” should stay in harmony with each other; and the national Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR have clearly defined this“red line”. Xi also urged the SAR to focus on development as the top priority and strive to maintain a stable and harmonious society.

For Hong Kong, both the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area are golden opportunities which are not to be missed. If our social environment continues to be disrupted by cynical and self-serving politicians, we will all regret it in the future. And remember, regret won’t bring back these lost opportunities

I cannot agree more with these sentiments. But among all the important points made in Xi’s speeches, the most impressive for me was when he cited a Hong Kong proverb. This could be literally translated as:“There will be no more boats to take after leaving Suzhou”. The proverb suggests that an opportunity rarely comes twice — so we must not let it slip away. This should remind all Hong Kong people of the importance of seizing every opportunity we can to develop our city. We simply cannot afford to miss out on any opportunities. The proverb is very familiar to all Hong Kong people; I believe we can all easily understand what the central government expects of us.

The world today, as we all know, is facing considerable upheaval. In the United States, the unusual governing style of President Donald Trump has increased the level of uncertainty for the world’s biggest economy. The United Kingdom is still suffering from the aftermath of the Brexit decision made in June last year. The European debt crisis has caused economic problems for so many EU countries for such a long time. Even better performing countries like Germany and France now have to deal with the fallout from the refugee crisis. It is interesting to note, too, that most of these refugees come from countries devastated by wars after so-called color revolutions.

The situation is entirely different for Hong Kong. Having the nation as our biggest supporter means that Hong Kong enjoys the privileges coming from “one country” as well as the freedoms and advantages brought about by “two systems”. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan provide us with even more opportunities.

Belt and Road is a long-term economic strategy of our nation, of which the proposed Greater Bay Area project is a significant part. Just before Xi ended his Hong Kong trip, he witnessed the signing of the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area. This was co-signed by the Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) He Lifeng, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Governor of Guangdong province Ma Xingrui, and Chief Executive of the Macao SAR Chui Sai-on. This undoubtedly reflected the importance of the Greater Bay Area project to the central government.

That Hong Kong is able to participate in the planning of the Greater Bay Area has more profound implications. In the past, Hong Kong used to be a mere receiver of privileged policies rather than an active planner. Things are different this time — the project will be jointly planned and prepared by Hong Kong, Macao and the nine cities in the Pearl River Delta area — Hong Kong has a say in making the rules of the “game”. This suggests Hong Kong will be able to take part in the planning process of a national-level project. The rules of the “game”will definitely take good care of Hong Kong’s interests because they are partly written by us.

For Hong Kong, both the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area are golden opportunities which are not to be missed. If our social environment continues to be disrupted by cynical and self-serving politicians, we will all regret it in the future. And remember, regret won’t bring back these lost opportunities.

The author is the president of the Chinese Manufacturers’Association of Hong Kong.

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