Published: 09:51, April 16, 2024
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Xia calls on Hong Kong to confront new challenges
By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong
Zheng Yanxiong (second row, eighth from left), director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu (second row, eighth from right), and other officials on Monday pose for a photo with students taking part in a recent national security education tour on the Chinese mainland. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

In a significant address on Monday, Xia Baolong, a senior central government official, called on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to proactively confront challenges and take new responsibilities for unparalleled high-quality development.

Speaking via video link at a ceremony held in Hong Kong, Xia, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, commemorated the holistic approach to national security introduced by President Xi Jinping a decade ago.

The event also marked the first National Security Education Day celebrated in the city since the enactment of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance on March 23, according to Article 23 of the Basic Law.

Xia said that since the implementation of the national security laws, Hong Kong has overcome periods of instability, closing gaps in security measures, and entering an era ripe with development opportunities.

He stressed the importance of the city’s steadfast dedication to national security to prevent the recurrence of social disturbances like those in 2019, thereby ensuring stable and high-quality growth.

Reaffirming the central government’s unwavering commitment to the “one country, two systems” principle, Xia pledged continued support and favorable policies that will amplify Hong Kong’s role as a superconnector between the Chinese mainland and the global community.

“Regardless of the hurdles Hong Kong faces, the motherland’s firm support will only grow stronger,” he asserted.

Xia pointed out that under the shield of the national security law, Hong Kong enjoys a more open and predictable business environment that encourages investors worldwide to conduct business free of concerns. He cited the international participation in recent high-profile business events in the city as “votes of confidence in Hong Kong”.

Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, delivers a video speech on Monday at the opening ceremony of National Security Education Day, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Xia also encouraged Hong Kong to cultivate “new quality productive forces” and explore new strengths, such as bringing in top innovative professionals globally, fostering green finance and a digital economy, establishing itself as a regional intellectual property trading hub, and providing high-value-added logistics services.

In the face of evolving geopolitics, Xia called on the people of Hong Kong to think inventively and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the nation’s overall development, particularly in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

“With the strong backing of the motherland and the diligent efforts of its people, the ‘Hong Kong Express’ will be unstoppable,” he said.

At the same event, Zheng Yan-xiong, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, said the National Security Law for Hong Kong’s promulgation in 2020 transitioned the city from chaos to order, and four years later, the new ordinance signifies a more mature and functional stage of the city’s rule of law.

The effective enforcement of national security legislation and the operation of pertinent institutions — the central government’s Office for Safeguarding National Security in the city, and the local government’s Committee for Safeguarding National Security — will bolster Hong Kong’s national security level and development quality, further solidifying the sustainable implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, Zheng said.

Dong Jingwei, head of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, said that safeguarding national security in Hong Kong should be treated as a top priority, considering its close ties with the motherland. He added that it will require persistent efforts and vigilance, given the city’s open nature and the subsequent susceptibility to external interference and disruption.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, convener of the city’s Executive Council, said the attendance of all the members of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, led by Xia, reflected the significance of the Article 23 legislation. Ip said the city should double down on efforts to promote national education among young students.

Betty Yuen So Siu-mai, chairwoman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, echoed Xia’s call for a renewed mindset for continued development. She stressed the need for innovative problem-solving approaches, as a complex geopolitical situation continues to affect markets, customer demands, and supply chains.