Published: 21:25, February 22, 2024 | Updated: 09:42, February 23, 2024
Hong Kong’s enduring resilience foretells its promising future
By Ken Ip

In a recent thought-provoking article titled It Pains Me to Say Hong Kong Is Over, Stephen Roach, former Morgan Stanley Asia chair, painted a bleak picture of the city’s future, eliciting concerns and dismay among many readers. However, before we succumb to the despair of yet another “obituary” for Hong Kong, let us delve deeper and explore the unique qualities that have enabled this remarkable city to defy predictions of impending doom time and time again.

Hong Kong has long been a city of resilience, facing and overcoming numerous challenges throughout its history. As a resident of Hong Kong for nearly four decades, I have borne witness to the city’s remarkable ability to adapt, evolve, and emerge stronger in the face of adversity. While it is true that the current circumstances pose significant challenges, it is essential to recognize the underlying strengths and untapped potential that lie ahead.

Roach’s article draws attention to three key factors that he suggested have hurt Hong Kong: domestic politics, the Chinese-mainland factor, and global developments. The promulgation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong has undoubtedly annoyed some Western politicians who raised “concerns” about its impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and civil liberties. Furthermore, the economic challenges faced by the Chinese mainland, coupled with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have added to the city’s difficulties. Additionally, the geopolitical tensions between the United States and China have placed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in a delicate position.

READ MORE: Opportunities and challenges for Hong Kong in 2023

However, it is crucial to look beyond the surface of these negativities and acknowledge the unique attributes that have propelled Hong Kong’s success in the past. The city’s visionary business community, coupled with its strategic location as a gateway between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, has made it a significant global financial hub. Hong Kong has been instrumental in facilitating mainland enterprises’ international expansion, and its role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, alongside Macao and Guangdong province, positions it as a vital player in the region’s economic development.

The road ahead may be arduous, but with careful planning, visionary leadership and the unwavering determination of its people, Hong Kong can overcome these obstacles

Contrary to Roach’s assertions, individuals living in Hong Kong, including long-term residents and professionals in the financial sector, express guarded optimism about the city’s future. They highlight Hong Kong’s modern port facilities, excellent transportation infrastructure, iconic skyline, and vibrant nightlife as enduring attractions. Moreover, Hong Kong’s unparalleled safety, efficient government departments, and the robust rule of law contribute to its appeal as a desirable place to live, work, and invest.

While it is true that Hong Kong’s economic playbook may require updating, it would be presumptuous to write off the city. Hong Kong has a track record of reinventing itself and bouncing back from crises. The city’s pragmatism, versatility, and openness have been key to its resilience. Time and again, it has defied prophecies of decline and proved its ability to adapt and thrive.

To ensure a prosperous future, Hong Kong must leverage its strengths and tap into new opportunities. The city’s potential as a gateway between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world is significant, with HSBC and other major banks playing a pivotal role as “superconnectors”. Additionally, Middle Eastern governments and corporations are increasingly forging strong relationships with Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, further enhancing the city’s global reach.

It is important for us to approach the challenges Hong Kong faces with a sense of pragmatism, determination and unity. The road ahead may be arduous, but with careful planning, visionary leadership and the unwavering determination of its people, Hong Kong can overcome these obstacles. The city’s remarkable ability to reinvent itself time and again should serve as a beacon of hope and confidence in its future.

READ MORE: HK's future will be better, only if it attracts enough talents

While Roach’s article may have sparked concerns about Hong Kong’s future, it is essential to remember that doomsayings on this resilient city have been busted in the past. Hong Kong has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to adapt, reinvent, and emerge stronger against all odds. With its unique strengths, strategic position, and the indomitable spirit of its people, Hong Kong will continue to defy expectations and carve out a prosperous future for itself, ensuring its place as a global icon of resilience and progress.

The author is chairman of the Asia MarTech Society and also holds the position of assistant professor at Saint Francis University in Tseung Kwan O.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.