Published: 17:29, April 16, 2024
HK embarks on a new journey to prosperity
By Gary Wong

Monday marked the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s proposition for a holistic national security concept, as well as the first National Security Education Day since the implementation of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance. This is a new page in Hong Kong’s history and a new beginning of governance leading to prosperity, with far-reaching significance.

Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, attended the opening ceremony of the National Security Education Day via video link and delivered a keynote speech.

First, he emphasized that President Xi’s holistic national security concept has profoundly revealed the original mission of “one country, two systems”, which is to safeguard national security and accelerate the push for Hong Kong’s transition from governance to prosperity, ensuring the steady and lasting implementation of “one country, two systems”.

Second, he elaborated on the “five needs” for Hong Kong’s transition from governance to prosperity, and put forward work requirements for Hong Kong’s new stage of development.

Xia focused on the transition from governance to prosperity in his speech, hoping that all sectors of society will understand that promoting the city’s transition from governance to prosperity and enabling residents to live a better life is the greatest consensus and greatest aspiration at this new starting point for Hong Kong, and that upholding the bottom line of national security is a fundamental need for achieving the transition from governance to prosperity. Without national security, high-quality development is out of the question.

Looking around the world, the risks to national security are increasing day by day. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government cannot be complacent. It must grasp the new characteristics of the national security situation, improve the “dual laws and dual mechanisms” of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, as well as the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR and the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, further enhancing the effectiveness and implementation of the national security system, and regarding the safeguarding of national security as the top priority.

With the establishment of a national security barrier, “one country, two systems” can be steadily implemented, and Hong Kong can achieve prosperity and stability, long-lasting peace and order, and the transition from governance to prosperity.

Xia emphasized that “one country, two systems” is a fundamental national policy of the country. As President Xi has firmly stated, the central government’s implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy is based on two principles: first, unwavering commitment to ensure it will not change or waver; second, comprehensive and accurate implementation to ensure it does not deviate or transform. At this new starting point, “one country, two systems” remains the best system for Hong Kong, just as it has been in the past. In order to maintain the vitality of “one country, two systems” and unleash the maximum advantages of the system, the central government will introduce more measures to support Hong Kong, while the HKSAR government must proactively leverage the advantages of “one country” and expand the conveniences of “two systems”.

Xia reminded us that Hong Kong needs to consolidate and leverage its unique position and advantages in order to achieve the transition from governance to prosperity. Hong Kong has many world-renowned flagship industries, leading the world in areas like finance, trade, shipping, legal services, and healthcare. However, to make these flagship industries shine even brighter, Hong Kong must align with the needs of evolving circumstances, act in a timely manner and seize opportunities, to further enhance its international competitiveness.

The global technology boom is reshaping industries and revolutionizing life, leading traditional industries to new realms. The new development landscape requires harnessing the power of talent, technology, and innovation to cultivate a new form of highly technological, highly efficient and high-quality productivity. The HKSAR government should formulate a development blueprint for this new productive capacity. In addition to precisely introducing global top-tier talent through the Top Talent Pass Scheme, it should also accelerate the cultivation of local innovation and technology talent. At the same time, it should create favorable conditions and environments for the transformation and upgrading of its pillar industries, increase research and development investment, and focus on developing fintech, green finance, the digital economy, a regional intellectual property trading center, high-value-added maritime services, smart ports and other new competitive advantages for Hong Kong.

Xia further explained that Hong Kong is achieving the transition from governance to prosperity against the backdrop of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the nation’s development. Hong Kong cannot be isolated or independent but must better integrate into the overall development of the country. He has full confidence in Hong Kong’s future, as the city will be able to access the vast 9.6 million square-kilometer territory and 1.4 billion-strong market of the Chinese mainland, equivalent to integrating into the world’s second-largest economy. Thus, the relationship of relying on the motherland and connecting to the world is not contradictory but unified — integrating into the country is for the purpose of better integrating into the international community.

The HKSAR government should fully leverage its role in facilitating the country’s “dual circulation” strategy, seize the opportunities of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the Belt and Road Initiative, and comprehensively participate in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), particularly by advancing major cooperation platforms such as Qianhai, Nansha and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Loop, deepening “hard connectivity” of infrastructure and promoting the “soft connectivity” of rules and mechanisms, to achieve “heart-to-heart connectivity” among GBA residents. In the process of integration and connectivity, Hong Kong needs to be mindful of the challenges posed by the regional reconfiguration of global industrial and supply chains, and continuously optimize its own economic structure, create new drivers of growth, and enhance its international competitiveness.

Xia also said that to achieve the transition from governance to prosperity, Hong Kong needs to proactively adapt to the new situation and new challenges, demonstrate new responsibilities, and achieve new leaps in progress through innovation and creation. The essence of Hong Kong’s transition from governance to prosperity is to take the path of innovation and change, rather than sticking to the old ways. The HKSAR government should embrace change, adapt to the evolving times, the mainland, the market and consumption patterns, boldly innovate, and encourage society to employ new thinking, new methods and new approaches to solve new problems, in order to write a new chapter in Hong Kong’s transition from governance to prosperity.

Finally, Xia expressed his hope that Hong Kong society will unite as one and carry forward the “Lion Rock Spirit”, making the transition from governance to prosperity a common cause for all. He stressed that with the great motherland’s strong backing, as long as the HKSAR government promotes high-quality development, enterprises and the business community explore new industries and new business models, all sectors of society strive for the economy and pursue development, and the youth make diligent efforts in study and external exchange, Hong Kong will continue to write new legends and create a better life, marching towards the goal of transition from governance to prosperity.

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

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.