By virtue of the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong, many have likened the city to a ship. Whether or not this metaphor is appropriate, the “Hong Kong ship” must anchor firmly to the motherland amid a sea change in the global political landscape.
China’s economic performance this year is set to stand out from the world’s major economies.
China’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index in January was 50.1 percent, an increase of 3.1 percentage points from the previous month, indicating that the manufacturing industry has bounced back to above the threshold of 50 and is expanding. Urban residents’ personal consumption during the Spring Festival holidays also showed an exponential growth. All of these point to the fact that the mainland economy has picked up steam again.
The United Nations’ World Economic Situation and Prospects 2023 report forecasts that the global economic growth will drop from about 3 percent in 2022 to 1.9 percent in 2023, whereas China’s economic growth is expected to reach 4.8 percent, near the 4.3 percent forecast by the World Bank, the 4.6 percent by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the 5.2 percent by the International Monetary Fund and by the European Union. Even if the growth rates of other countries exceed that of China, the country, as the world’s second-largest economy, will still be the most powerful engine that drives the global economy.
Hong Kong’s economy is also showing signs of recovery. On the third day of the Lunar New Year holiday, Sha Tin Racecourse opened to the public for the first time since COVID-19 struck the city, receiving 84,394 visitors and raking in revenue of HK$2.1 billion ($270 million) — the highest in three years.
Principal officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government are sparing no effort to promote Hong Kong to the international community with a view to attracting global capital and talent. To consolidate its status as an international financial, trade and logistics center and develop itself into an international innovation and technology hub and center for cultural exchange, the city must expand its financial and economic ties with other places around the world.
But Hong Kong people must realize the future of the city, an integral part of China, is tied to national development.
As the world steps into 2023, the global landscape is witnessing a sea change. The Russia-Ukraine conflict could deteriorate into a war between the US-led West and Russia as more and more NATO weapons pour into Ukraine. The war could also spiral into nuclear warfare, as some experts warn.
While the epicenter is far from China, the country, including the HKSAR, could suffer collateral damage. A Bloomberg report claimed on Jan 24 that the Biden administration had accused some Chinese State-owned companies of assisting Russia in its war with Ukraine. This groundless accusation suggests Washington is propagandizing against China in preparation for slapping sanctions on China.
In Hong Kong, many believe that the city, as a member of the World Trade Organization and a separate customs territory, should be immune to all forms of US sanctions against China. In reality, however, Washington is obsessed with undercutting Hong Kong’s distinctiveness. For instance, even though the WTO has ruled against the US for requiring imports from Hong Kong to be labelled as “Made in China”, Washington has vowed to appeal against the verdict.
2023 marks an important milestone in Hong Kong’s socioeconomic development as the city embarks on its new journey to good governance and prosperity. Well begun is half done. The city should take its cue from Guangdong province and Shenzhen city.
Guangdong authorities held a “high-quality development” conference after the Lunar New Year holiday, which was attended by about 25,000 participants either in person or online.
It took Guangdong a little more than 40 years to surpass the Four Asian Tigers in terms of economic aggregate, and its economic prowess ranks first among all provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions in China. Leaders at all levels in Guangdong are aware that the province’s economic growth has plateaued while a qualitative breakthrough is still in the making. Having realized that Guangdong lags behind developed economies in qualitative terms, Guangdong authorities are focusing on and aiming at high-quality development as the next growth target.
On Jan 29, 11 districts of Shenzhen kick-started the first batch of 266 major projects for this year. Among them, three are associated with Hong Kong — the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Design and Creative Industries Park, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Quantum Science Center, and the second phase of the Chung Ying Street Shenzhen-Hong Kong Tourism Consumption Cooperation Zone.
Hong Kong, in contrast, is eclipsed by the gung-ho zeal of Guangdong province and Shenzhen city; and therefore must catch up on undertaking major projects and initiatives to boost socioeconomic development.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS