Despite having a vibrant economy led by a thriving financial industry, Hong Kong is bedeviled by some deep-seated problems that call for timely solutions and commitment for change.
Hong Kong is at a critical juncture as it moves from stability to prosperity. As President Xi Jinping said during the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s 20th-anniversary celebration in 2017, “believe in ourselves, believe in Hong Kong and believe in the nation,” and we can create a brighter future for Hong Kong. Hong Kong is blessed with unprecedented opportunities brought by the Chinese mainland’s development and the country’s unwavering support. Hong Kong residents are wise, industrious, receptive and broad-minded. With unwavering faith, unity and diligence, we treasure and enhance Hong Kong’s competitive advantages under “one country, two systems” in order to create a much better future for this place and its people.
The year 1997 carries profound significance for me personally, as I graduated with a master’s degree from Yale University and embarked on my career. I left the ivory tower and started working in New York, alone in a foreign country. While pulling long hours day in and day out, in my quiet moments I held my hometown in mind. I missed everything in Hong Kong, most of all family, which was 13,000 kilometers away, as the “Pearl of the Orient” welcomed its return to the motherland.
On July 1, 1997, the city of New York saw Hong Kong prominently featured on every newspaper headline. My mind snapped to my hometown as I bought one and adrenaline coursed through my veins as I recalled China’s remarkable progress made in socioeconomic development over the century, all the way from abject poverty and absolute powerlessness during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Hong Kong shares inseparable bonds with the mainland. My parents moved from rural Chaozhou in the 1960s and toiled to provide for their children. They witnessed Hong Kong’s transformation to an international metropolis. That citizens given a chance could so tremendously unleash their potential and bring vitality to society was one of the greatest inspirations for me growing up. That was also the source of my dedication and determination to return home upon gaining knowledge and work experience as I was studying abroad.
After more than a decade overseas, I finally returned to Hong Kong and furthered my financial career. I was pleased to see a surging number of mainland enterprises listing on the Hong Kong stock market. This consolidated the city’s status as an international financial center among global investors that mainland enterprises tapped to raise funds and expand business. As a Hong Kong financial practitioner, the joy it brings is beyond description, as it perfectly illustrates how the financial sector flourished under the grand concept and successful execution of “one country, two systems”.
Hong Kong and the mainland’s economic development became even more aligned and inseparable after the return. To wit, Hong Kong has ranked as the world’s first IPO venue in seven of the last 13 years, and mainland enterprises accounted for 98 percent of all Hong Kong’s IPOs in terms of market value in 2021. Their share in our stock market transaction value has more than doubled since 1997, whereas its proportion of market capitalization soared from 16 percent to 78 percent. Without a doubt, Hong Kong’s stock market turnover and market capitalization would be drastically diminished had it not been for the mainland enterprises listed.
Meanwhile, leveraging on the national policy of renminbi internationalization, Hong Kong has established and maintained its position as a prominent offshore RMB center. Indeed, the RMB is the second major nonlocal currency deposit in Hong Kong’s M2, just behind the US dollar. Moreover, Hong Kong also boasts the world’s largest scale of offshore RMB products, including stocks, dim-sum bonds and RMB loans. This gives Hong Kong an important edge as we vie to be the leading international financial center.
The national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) sets out the central government’s support to Hong Kong strengthening and enhancing its position as an international financial, aviation and trading center. The plan also promotes Hong Kong’s development into an international innovation and technology hub and the East-meets-West center for international cultural exchange. Coupled with joint development projects in Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin to establish a world-class Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the plan details how Hong Kong’s future economic momentum hinges on its commitment to and integration into national strategies. In the meantime, Hong Kong’s core traditional strengths play an important role in helping our country go global as China takes on an increasingly significant international role. Hong Kong can capitalize on such opportunities by contributing its strengths to our motherland’s overall needs.
In 2015, I was honored to join Our Hong Kong Foundation (OHKF), a think tank founded by the city’s first chief executive, Mr Tung Chee-hwa. This was when I started my career in public policy research and advocacy, fulfilling my original dedication to returning to Hong Kong, and to commit myself to serving my community. Apart from land and housing issues, OHKF also focuses on the GBA’s development, Hong Kong’s economy (green finance in particular), healthcare and aging, technology and innovation, social innovation, arts and culture, and education and youth.
The implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and an improved electoral system represent the major turning point for the city as we restore order from chaos. In 2021, the new electoral system was pivotal in ensuring patriots administering Hong Kong, safeguarding Hong Kong residents’ rights to govern and the prompting of all strata to develop Hong Kong in concert. With my previous six years of policy research experience, I was granted the precious opportunity to be elected as a Legislative Council member through the Election Committee constituency. This allowed me to put forward findings from our policy analysis and recommendations in LegCo while I monitor the SAR government’s operation and urge it to improve citizens’ livelihoods and formulate long-term plans.
The more deeply I delve into Hong Kong issues, the stronger sense of urgency and responsibility I feel. Being young and capable, our generation must go into overdrive and dedicate ourselves to building a better Hong Kong.
The author is a Legislative Council member, and senior vice-president and executive director of the Public Policy Institute, Our Hong Kong Foundation.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS