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Friday, January 15, 2016, 08:39

'Bonds' with Belt & Road countries needed: Leung

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Thursday said that strategically Hong Kong needs to foster “people-to-people bonds” with Belt and Road countries — instead of just focusing on business matters.

Economists shared Leung’s opinion but urged the government to come up with more detailed planning to embrace the visionary strategy which could give Hong Kong long-standing influence.

Speaking on a radio phone-in program, Leung said Hong Kong was a very open society and also had an open economy. Therefore, it was very important for young people to get acquainted with its major trading partners.

Hong Kong’s trading partners have been changing rapidly, from the US to the European Union to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These are mostly covered by the Belt and Road Initiative, Leung said.

Leung planned to first of all initiate work to foster a “people-to-people bond” with Belt and Road countries by encouraging people to join quasi-government organizations and various community bodies in Hong Kong which connect with people in these places on multiple levels, including education, culture and youth.

Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School Professor Leo Sin Yat-ming said the government was moving in the right direction.

The initiative would definitely present a great opportunity to move the Hong Kong economy forward. But good intentions and a workable blueprint would need to be well executed, Sin said.

Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a retired accounting and finance professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a local delegate to the National People’s Congress, said it might take more than one term of government before the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative are felt.

The economist said that the next administration could not avoid following the trail mapped out by the initiative and the current government. If it did not follow, this would harm Hong Kong and could allow the impetus to be lost.

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