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Published: 01:16, March 28, 2023 | Updated: 09:35, March 28, 2023
Hong Kong emerges as a big winner from two sessions
By Mervyn Cheung
Published:01:16, March 28, 2023 Updated:09:35, March 28, 2023 By Mervyn Cheung

Following completion of the renewal of leadership of the State organs, the smooth passage of an amendment to the Legislation Law and the plan on reforming Party and State institutions, China’s annual political season for the two sessions drew to a successful close early this month. 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been in the spotlight from dialogues between the State leaders and HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on its roles and responsibilities in the years ahead and particularly from the big mentions of the city’s importance and the State’s support for its socioeconomic development in the addresses by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in the closing parts of the two sessions.

Grounded on President Xi’s rationale that China’s “security is the foundation for development, and stability is the prerequisite for prosperity”, the Hong Kong and Macao SARs received a special mention from the president, who said that “the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions is indispensable to the building of a great China”. It was noted that during his 16-minute speech, the State leader dedicated around one minute to the two SARs’ significance to the country’s development, pledging that the central authorities will continue to help bolster the SARs’ effective governance, economic development and social well-being — areas of lifeline importance to their people. Along with the determination to turn the Chinese military into a “great wall of steel”, President Xi said that “security is the foundation of development, and stability is the prerequisite for prosperity”.

It is safe to conclude that the HKSAR has emerged as a big winner from this year’s two sessions, given the favorable environment created and the support the central authorities have provided for the city’s socioeconomic development that the city should leverage to improve residents’ livelihoods in the years ahead

To achieve the objective of maintaining an open, inclusive, vibrant and globally oriented economy, President Xi is steadily advancing “high-quality development” — the creation of a sustainable economy that is advanced, transparent and fair, with opportunities for all stakeholders. In parallel, the State leader stressed that China should strive to attain “greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology”, in a bid to counter the intrigue created by American politicians and their allies in a bid to slow down China’s technological advances by denying the country access to all sophisticated chips.

Acknowledging “a host of challenges” faced by the country on economic development, this year’s Government Work Report suggested that the central government will “double its efforts” to realize 5 percent GDP growth in 2023. Evaluated as an “impressive feat”, the central government has brought the COVID-19 pandemic under effective control. The lifting of anti-pandemic curbs has, in turn, stimulated a rebound in economic activities, including inbound and outbound tourism, as well as phenomenal growth in industrial output, consumption and service sectors.

Indeed, there is hardly any doubt that the country’s new leadership will step up efforts in pursuit of the second-centenary goal of building a modern socialist nation in all aspects. This developmental orientation was confirmed by Premier Li Qiang, who said at a news conference held after the close of the two sessions that opening-up remains a core policy, and the government will continue to make great progress in this area despite external factors.

Concerning the future of Hong Kong and Macao, Premier Li holds a strong conviction that the economic setbacks confronting the two metropolises are only transitory, and the two SARs will ultimately prevail with the central government’s support. The SARs’ authorities can look forward with confidence to counting on strong backing from the motherland and the institutional safeguarding of “one country, two systems”.

The plan to reform the Party and State institutions as approved by the NPC at the end of the two sessions includes the establishment of a Hong Kong and Macao work office that will report directly to the Communist Party of China Central Committee. This revamp on the governance structure for the SARs’ affairs underscores the prominent roles and responsibilities of the two SARs in national development. Following this hierarchical change, it is anticipated that the central authorities will dedicate more resources to support the SARs’ development while speeding up their integration into national development.

It is safe to conclude that the HKSAR has emerged as a big winner from this year’s two sessions, given the favorable environment created and the support the central authorities have provided for the city’s socioeconomic development that the city should leverage to improve residents’ livelihoods in the years ahead. This observation is further supported by the enthusiastic responses from the ministries visited by Chief Executive John Lee right after the two sessions. During Lee’s visit to the Ministry of Science and Technology, for instance, Vice-Minister Zhang Guangjun signed an arrangement with the HKSAR that will help the city to be an international innovation and technology hub through increased cooperation between the two sides on exchange of research outcomes, scholarly resources and technology talents that will help the HKSAR to shoulder more national technology missions. Given the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with General Secretary Xi at its core and the central authorities’ commitment to the pursuit of high-quality development, Hong Kong will have a distinct role to play in leveraging the strengths of its expertise and status as a global financial, shipping and business center complemented by its concurrent development as a cultural hub with the vigorous development of the West Kowloon Cultural District into a world-renowned cultural base featuring both Eastern and Western arts and cultures.

The author is a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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