Published: 02:05, April 1, 2023 | Updated: 10:30, April 1, 2023
HK-Hainan ties to advance high-standard opening-up
By Liu Yifan

Deeper economic and financial ties between Hainan and Hong Kong will chart a fresh course for China’s high-standard opening-up by giving full play to each of their comparative advantages, said Guo Yi, managing director and partner of Boston Consulting Group.

In an interview session at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023 on March 30 in Hainan, Guo told China Daily that Hong Kong and Hainan can create great synergy and can each compete in the global arena in different spheres given their distinct histories and specialties, thereby defying any concerns that competition between the two places may dwarf one or the other. 

Much of Hong Kong’s success comes from its sophisticated financial market, free capital flow and independent judicial system. While Hainan, an island province nestled in the South China Sea near the Vietnam border, is often billed as China’s equivalent to Hawaii and is also the nation’s strategic gateway to Southeast Asia. 

“Hong Kong is more of a financial center and entrepot, which Hainan has no need to replace. Instead, Hainan will be a trade port that builds on a booming duty-free market and intimate links with the Southeast Asian market,” Guo said, adding collaboration will deliver a win-win situation for both. 

Amid growing calls for closer regional cooperation during the annual economic event held in China’s southernmost province, the development of the Hainan free-trade port was a default ice-breaker for conversations among leaders of governments and businesses from across the globe. 

As its major opening-up measure, China aims to turn Hainan Island into a globally influential and high-level free-trade port by the middle of the century. The tropical province is also aiming for round-island independent customs operation by the end of 2025.

“Hong Kong’s financial prowess can complement Hainan in a significant way because the province is turning out to be a bridgehead for both Chinese enterprises to go global and overseas companies to enter China, a building block of which is the ability to meet enormous financial needs,” Guo said.

Among a string of policy moves in the offing to enhance Hainan’s attractiveness to the world, Hong Kong’s professional services are to be allowed easier access to the tropical island. 

The measures, proposed in February, include encouraging Hong Kong financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, to set up branches or offices in the province.

Meanwhile, a total of 50 Hong Kong professional qualifications for physicians, social workers, tour guides and structural engineers, involving more than 10 industries, will also be recognized in the Hainan free-trade port.

“It’s believed that more upcoming measures will spearhead further flow of capital, people and information between the two places and prop up the internationalization of the market on multiple fronts,” Guo said.