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Central govt's support key to Hong Kong future
By Xiao Ping (HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-03-06 07:36

HONG KONG: The focus of media attention has shifted to Beijing as the annual meetings of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are once again being held in the capital city.

The government report relating to the SAR have always been Hong Kong society's top concern, and this year is no exception.

Looking at Premier Wen Jiabao's report yesterday, the most distinct theme in the paragraphs concerning Hong Kong and Macao was the central government's unwavering determination to support Hong Kong.

Given the extremely volatile global economic conditions, it is natural that the meetings' main concern is to hammer out ways to cope with the worst financial crisis in a century and to maintain a stable but reasonably speedy economic development.

And Hong Kong, which is also struggling to find a recipe to fend off the onslaught of the financial tsunami, has expectations of Beijing.

That is exactly the reason why Premier Wen's pledge to "fully support the two SARs - Hong Kong and Macao - in their efforts to cope with the international financial crisis and maintain their prosperity and stability" sounded so significant.

This has evoked memories of a scene during the 1997 Asian financial crisis when Premier Zhu Rongji, in a bid to maintain the stability of the Hong Kong dollar, announced solemnly to the world that the central government would go as far as using its foreign reserve to back up the SAR should its financial regime be attacked.

Since the country's foreign reserve at that time was already the biggest in the world, the premier's vow was certainly no lip service.

And the national strength demonstrated in this promise and the moral support it rendered the Hong Kong community was indeed unimaginable.

Wen's report not only reiterated the central government's resolve to support Hong Kong, but it also put forward a basket of concrete measures to make that happen. They include expediting the pilot program of Renminbi settlement in goods trading with the two SARs, opening the mainland market further to the SARs' service industries, helping Hong Kong enterprises' development on the mainland, and intensifying Guangdong-Hong Kong collaboration. These measures also aim to speed up such infrastructure projects as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen airport rail link, and the Guangdong-Shenzhen express rail.

All these initiatives will not only help Hong Kong deal with the current crisis, but are also conducive to the SAR's long-term development.

This demonstration of strategic thinking has significant and far-reaching ramifications for maintaining Hong Kong society's steady and healthy development and its prosperity and stability in the long run.

(HK Edition 03/06/2009 page1)