Friday, November 15, 2013, 07:38
CPC-mooted reform will bring HK, mainland closer: John Tsang
By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah believes Hong Kong will continue to play to its strength in market reform and tap new opportunities in the days following the just-concluded Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that endorsed deeper reform.

A communique issued after the landmark party meeting makes it clear that the CPC believes proper market-government relationship is essential for economic reform and that market will play a “decisive” role in allocation of resources. The market has usually been defined as playing a “basic” role in allocating resources since 1992 when the mainland decided to build up a socialist market economy. Xinhua News Agency, citing analysts, said the change in the choice of word from “basic” to “decisive” was an important highlight of the communique.

Hong Kong’s financial chief noticed that many reform initiatives outlined in the communique shared common ground with the city’s market economy. He pointed this out as he appealed for further studies on the city’s potential role in this regard while speaking at a forum in Hong Kong on Thursday morning.

Policies highlighted by Tsang pertained to promotion of fair business competition; free consumer choice and spending; clearing barriers in the market; establishment of fair, open and transparent market rules; as well as improvement of a market-driven pricing mechanism. “(All this) shows the State will build an open market system with orderly competition in future, thereby moving closer to Hong Kong’s market economy,” he said. “I believe the economic integration of the two places will reach a higher level in future.”

Not only will the city tap new opportunities, he said, the well-established financial hub could also help the mainland build better systems in keeping with reform initiatives, as it had always successfully done in the past.

Even as the nation continued to open up to the world, Tsang said, the city remained central to the national economy. Hong Kong has remained the top source of direct capital investment for almost every mainland province, with the range of investments diverse.

Tsang hoped that the city would host more pilot projects in the ongoing renminbi reform and offer varied investment opportunities for the new wealth of the mainland as Hong Kong strived to turn itself into an international center of asset and funds management.

Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, co-chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, said on Thursday that the communique provided the business community a promising outlook on the nation’s economic, political and social reforms. “We are very confident that the pledges to deepen reform at the Third Plenary Session will deliver stability and a lot of opportunities in the next decade,” he said. But the heavyweight real estate developer, which also owns projects on the mainland, stressed that it will maintain its Hong Kong focus.

Tse Kwok-leung, head of the economics and strategic planning department of Bank of China (Hong Kong), told Xinhua that Hong Kong might also offer useful case studies to highlight the distinction between the roles of the market and the government, and how public entities are run in a market economy.