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Thursday, May 19, 2016, 01:28

Beijing strongly backs HK’s role in Belt and Road

By Shadow Li
Beijing strongly backs HK’s role in Belt and Road

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, delivers a keynote speech during the Belt and Road Summit at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on Wednesday. (R oy L iu / C hina D aily)

HONG KONG - The country’s top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Wednesday pledged the central government’s full support behind Hong Kong in making use of its unique advantages in participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, suggesting the SAR to focus on four key areas.

On the second day of his three-day inspection tour, Zhang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, extended the central government’s wishes and support for Hong Kong to take a proactive role in the nation’s strategic blueprint put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The four key areas that Zhang highlighted for Hong Kong to tap its strengths into are: First, building up a platform of comprehensive services; second, facilitating capital flows and promoting renminbi internationalization and development of the Belt and Road investment and financing platform; third, promoting cultural exchanges for greater mutual understanding among people along the Belt and Road routes; and finally, deepening cooperation with the mainland and jointly developing markets along key routes.

Zhang’s keynote speech at the Belt and Road Summit hosted at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday was highly anticipated by the community. It is expected to provide a boost for the city to participate in the nation’s development.

It was the first time a State leader outlined a detailed direction for Hong Kong beyond its “super-connector” role. Zhang, who oversees Hong Kong and Macao affairs, is also the first State leader to visit the city after the Belt and Road Initiative was introduced.

“This summit on the Belt and Road takes place in Hong Kong not only because Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, but also because it is a key link for the Belt and Road,” Zhang told international dignitaries at the one-day summit.

Zhang praised Hong Kong’s advantages including its location in terms of maritime, inland and air transport, which makes the city an important gateway in the mainland’s economic liberalization process.

The top legislator went on to say Hong Kong enjoys the advantage of being a pioneer in liberalization and cooperation. Many liberalization policies of the mainland were first experimented with and practiced in Hong Kong. This offers a good foundation for the SAR to seize new opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and to make more progress.

He also noted Hong Kong’s advantage in its diverse and advanced professional services. It was also an important international financial, shipping and trade center with the world’s largest offshore renminbi market, as well as one of the world’s most important places for arbitration.

When discussing Hong Kong’s advantages gained from cultural and people-to-people interaction, Zhang used the example of Hong Kong’s martial arts movies, which had been loved by loyal fans all over the world for a long time. Zhang also said Cantonese culture provided a foundation for Hong Kong to deepen its exchanges and cooperation with the rest of Southeast Asia – as a lot of people there originated from Guangdong.

Hong Kong should deepen cooperation with the mainland and jointly develop markets along the Belt and Road, Zhang said. He added that the central government supports Hong Kong in fully tapping into its advantages in many areas. This includes deepening cooperation with coastal provinces and cities in professional services and skilled people with global vision, and encouraging more cooperation through innovative models.

This is the first year for implementation of the national 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). It is also an important year for the Belt and Road development. The summit in Hong Kong was of great significance for building consensus for cooperation along the Belt and Road routes, Zhang stressed.

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