Some timely and avuncular advice

Updated: 2017-03-08 07:26

(HK Edition)

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Some timely and avuncular advice

The likelihood of Hong Kong's economic prowess being surpassed by neighboring city Shenzhen in just two years has shocked many in the SAR. It is hardly believable.

While it is common knowledge that Shenzhen has been on a fast track in terms of social and economic development over the past few decades, few imagined that this city, founded less than four decades ago, will soon overtake Hong Kong in terms of economic size. This is especially true because the young city was merely a backward rural area four decades ago when Hong Kong was already a renowned international financial hub.

The reminder that "Shenzhen's GDP might surpass Hong Kong's within two years", as told by National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) Chairman Zhang Dejiang at a closed-door meeting with Hong Kong deputies to the NPC, has brought Hong Kong people closer to an unpalatable reality: The city's economic development has been relatively stagnant over recent years when compared with its regional rivals.

Another telling sign that Hong Kong is losing out to its economic rivals is the persistent slide in the numbers of multinational companies that choose Hong Kong as the base of their regional headquarters or regional offices. The number of the former has dropped to 1,379 in 2016 from 1,401 in 2015; and the latter to 2,352 in 2016 from 2,456 in 2013, according to statistics from the Census and Statistics Department. More tellingly, those who have moved their regional headquarters or regional offices out of Hong Kong have mostly moved to Singapore or Shanghai.

The new tale of the two neighboring cities' economic development reminds us of the unchanging natural law: A boat sailing against the current must forge ahead or it will be driven back. Indeed, the Hong Kong economy has been drifting without a clear direction over the past several years. This is at a time when the SAR government was totally tied up by relentless political bickering surrounding the proposed national education curriculum and electoral reform for the implementation of universal suffrage in the city.

Partly as a result of the city's stagnant economic development, many of the city's deep-seated social problems - including a widening wealth gap, a severe housing shortage and weakening upward social mobility for the youth - have come to the surface and become aggravating factors, further eroding social harmony and stability, which is the foundation of economic development.

It is a no-brainer that economic development - rather than political wrangling - is the only viable solution to Hong Kong's social problems. Politicization will lead Hong Kong nowhere but to chaos, as has been proven by our experience over the past several years. It is to be hoped that for the sake of their own well-being, Hong Kong people will have the wisdom to take the avuncular advice of the NPCSC chairman: Avoid over-politicizing issues and seize the abundant opportunities offered by the nation's fast-track development.

(HK Edition 03/08/2017 page8)