Many people may be wondering why the central authorities sent a team of senior officials in charge of Hong Kong and Macao affairs here to present and explain the outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), about six months after the country started executing it. In this author’s opinion, the central government is telling the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to begin fully integrating its own development into the overall development strategy of the nation now by seizing the opportunities created by the 14th Five-Year Plan and taking full advantage of the strong support by the central authorities.
Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, has been pushing for this roadshow for quite some time now. In the past few months, he noted on multiple occasions that fully integrating its own development into the country’s overall development strategy is the best way for Hong Kong to put its unique strengths into full effect and thrive together with the Chinese mainland. In his speech at the start of the presentation on Monday, Luo Huining, head of the Central People’s Government’s Liaison Office in the HKSAR, pointed out: “The 14th Five-Year Plan has reaffirmed the new position of Hong Kong’s development in the national development strategy, with more policy support for the HKSAR than ever before. What Hong Kong society needs to do now is take further steps in fully integrating its own development into the national development strategy.” Apparently, the central authorities are concerned Hong Kong society is not moving as quickly as it should be and still has some way to go in connecting with the nation’s overall development strategy thoroughly and precisely.
One of the advantages of the country’s socialist system is the ability to “accomplish great things by drawing strengths and resources from the whole nation”. The practice of making and implementing a national development plan every five years is a perfect example of concentrating manpower, funding and materials on key areas of development. By doing so, China has developed one of the poorest countries in the world into the world’s second-largest economy over 13 five-year plan periods, or 65 years. Today, the nation is working toward achieving the development goals set in the 14th Five-Year Plan and Hong Kong is expected to play an important part in the process. The importance of Hong Kong’s participation in the 14th Five-Year Plan can be seen mainly from two perspectives:
One is its advantageous position blessed with the “one country, two systems” principle and serving as an irreplaceable link between the socialist mainland and the outside world dominated by developed capitalist economies. As a reasonably successful capitalist free-market economy, Hong Kong enjoys easier access to other capitalist markets and more experience in navigating the dangerous waters of international finance, trade and transportation. With its unique strengths, the city can help the country achieve the strategic goals in ways no mainland counterparts can in the foreseeable future.
The other one is that Hong Kong must be an integral part of the national development strategy to thrive amid the profound shift in global power balance unseen in 100 years. Generally speaking, the world continues to feel the rise of the East and decline of the West, with China shining the brightest as the outstanding growth engine despite the crippling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy. Hong Kong is now a free-market economy driven mainly by the modern services industry after its manufacturers relocated to the mainland in the 1980s and ’90s. Its sensitiveness to market mood swings works in its advantage and disadvantage at once, as a fast reflex also exposes vulnerability. In that sense Hong Kong cannot afford not to constantly tap into the national economy for market depth and development opportunities as well as an unmatched hinterland to fall back on. Looking ahead, Hong Kong has no choice but to step on board the national development fast train without hesitation and be an important driving force for the sake of its own future economic growth.
Hong Kong’s development has run into serious obstacles in recent years, especially deep-rooted structural problems as well as internal political sabotage and foreign interference, culminating in the “black revolution” from June 2019 through June 2020, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic till this day. Thankfully, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR was enacted on June 30 last year and effectively ended months of social unrest, allowing Hong Kong to focus on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery. There is no better time than now for the city to take a deep dive into the 14th Five-Year Plan for more development opportunities. To do so, the SAR government needs to draw up a development plan to take full advantage of the nation’s overall development strategy, beginning with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in conjunction with the Belt and Road Initiative. It must think beyond Hong Kong and become a part of the country’s “dual circulation” economic growth pattern, which requires a change of the old laissez-faire economic approach to accommodate policy adjustments. It should be more proactive than purely reactive and step up exchanges with the central government over development strategy, policies and measures to achieve better efficiency and results.
The author is a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the Hong Kong New Era Development Thinktank.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS