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Published: 21:26, December 04, 2023 | Updated: 11:10, December 05, 2023
HK will benefit enormously from value-adder role
By Mervyn Cheung
Published:21:26, December 04, 2023 Updated:11:10, December 05, 2023 By Mervyn Cheung

Residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will have been greatly enthused by the unanimous confirmation of the city’s growing role as a superconnector and value-adder at a cross-sectoral conference co-hosted by China Daily and the Hong Kong Coalition, themed “When GBA Meets ASEAN — One Heart and One Mind”. 

The conference, held on Nov 22 to explore the rapidly developing economic opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), drew online and offline participation from hundreds of government officials, industry and business leaders, and representatives from various specialized fields such as finance and ecosystems. 

Both regions are ranked among the world’s most economically vibrant. Three panel discussions were presented at the conference, comprising exchanges of expertise and experience in green finance, green technology in daily life, and preservation of art and culture for sustainable tourism. 

Throughout the discussions, there was clear agreement that the GBA, given its favorable geographical position, as well as cultural and business ties with ASEAN, offers enormous potential for enhanced cooperation with the Southeast Asian group’s member states.

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In his keynote address, Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, stressed that the HKSAR, with its competitive edge as a superconnector between China and the rest of the world and the “one country, two systems” principle, is well-placed to perform a crucial role in enhancing mutually beneficial economic relations between the GBA and ASEAN.

At the GBA conference, experts concluded that the HKSAR, as the “financial heart” of Asia, is well-positioned on various major counts to bridge the investment gap in the relatively underdeveloped ASEAN market for green financing

HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu reiterated the paramount importance of the “one country, two systems” framework that underpins the city’s regional, and indeed world, connectivity. 

This is, in his view, grounded in the staunch support from the central authorities and close connections with the Chinese mainland, which guarantee the metropolis’ peace, stability and prosperity. As a reliable bridge linking the mainland with the rest of the world, Hong Kong provides a strong foothold for business development and flows of trade, finance, talent and professionals, which is fully buttressed by the firmly established rule of law and its status as the only common law jurisdiction in China. 

Of no lesser importance, these intangible assets have equipped the HKSAR to play a unique role in the widely supported Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to promote a shared future among participating countries and regions — now exceeding 150-plus and over 30 international organizations. 

Lee emphasized that Hong Kong’s strengths have enabled it to become a “super value-adder” for the BRI, including ASEAN participants. By aligning its development with the national strategies as mapped out in the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), Hong Kong is looking forward to becoming a global hub in finance, trade, shipping, innovation and technology cultural exchanges, and other areas too.

Li Yongsheng, acting commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, affirmed that the city, with the strong backing of the mainland and its extensive networking with the world, is able to play at least four roles — a facilitator of trade and investment, a promoter of regional connectivity, a startup agent for innovation, and a contributor to people’s bonds — in strengthening cooperation among the GBA and the whole of China with ASEAN. He said that China is opening its door wider to the world, while ASEAN and the GBA are providing vigorous support for China’s opening-up efforts under the BRI. China will accelerate the buildup of sea and land transport infrastructure for the silk route under the BRI. This was agreed by the deputy secretary-general of Hong Kong Coalition, Jane Lee Ching-yee, given that the success of the China-ASEAN partnership hinges on Hong Kong’s vital bid to effectively connect the GBA with ASEAN. This economic bond will yield the most “shining example of the success and robustness” of regional trade partnerships in the Asia-Pacific.

Secretary of State (deputy minister) of Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism Pak Sokhom applauded the “golden platform” provided by the forum for participating groups to expand “strategic tourism partnerships”, which he said is most important for stimulating tourism growth. On which subject, Lee highlighted that Hong Kong “boasts a captivating cultural blend of East and West” offering significant historical buildings, declared monuments and museums, as well as “fascinating intangible cultural heritage” embracing food, festivals, music and art. 

During the panel discussions, experts concurred that a more extensive global response is emerging in efforts to come to grips with the world’s deteriorating environment. As an international center for financial services, Hong Kong is generally considered capable of handling green financing. As Lee pointed out, the Asia region will, in the next 30 years, require $66 trillion in climate investments. As a result, the HKSAR government is reportedly enhancing the city’s green fintech ecosystem, which will see the initiation of a “proof-of-concept subsidy scheme for green fintech” in the first half of 2024, promoting the development of technological solutions and offering front-end financial support for pre-commercialized green fintech. 

READ MORE: Hong Kong to further drive GBA-ASEAN ties

At the GBA conference, experts concluded that the HKSAR, as the “financial heart” of Asia, is well-positioned on various major counts to bridge the investment gap in the relatively underdeveloped ASEAN market for green financing. Doubtless, both the GBA and ASEAN, with substantial room for synergy in growth and prosperity, will benefit tremendously from the HKSAR’s well-regulated financial system and multifarious experiences in capital creation and management, as well as provision of market solutions to both public and private-sector green fintech projects. It is now time to see the HKSAR’s hand in these auspicious possibilities that will fully leverage its potential to become a global hub for green financing and cultural exchanges. 

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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