Mainland backup 'gives HK stronger edge'

Updated: 2018-03-14 06:52

By Zhou Mo in Beijing(HK Edition)

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Backed by the Chinese mainland's robust growth, Hong Kong's ability to keep its status as a global financial center will be stronger than that of its counterparts worldwide, a Hong Kong deputy to the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress, said.

The special administrative region is enjoying big benefits brought by national development, especially the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, said Lam Lung-on, who is also chairman of Shanghai-based Yuzhou Group.

The GBA city cluster includes innovation powerhouse Shenzhen, cultural hub Guangzhou, manufacturing centers Foshan and Dongguan, and tourist destination Macao.

Such diverse and powerful industries in the region offer huge opportunities for Hong Kong to provide professional financial services and explore new areas for financial cooperation, said Lam.

He made the remarks in an interview with China Daily on the sidelines of the annual two sessions in Beijing.

Besides the national grand plan, the launch of stock link programs between the mainland and Hong Kong - the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect and the cross-boundary bond link - which have opened the doors for international investors to access the mainland's capital market and vice versa, has further strengthened Hong Kong's leading role in the financial sector.

Mainland backup 'gives HK stronger edge'

Lam, however, warned that Hong Kong's advantages in certain sectors, like shipping and trade, are being undermined, stressing that the city needs to work closer with the mainland.

"But, with the mainland's rapid development as a strong backup, Hong Kong will be more powerful in retaining its status as an international financial center, compared with other global financial hubs around the world," he said.

Currently, Hong Kong is the world's largest offshore renminbi center. According to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, renminbi deposits in the SAR stood at 546.4 billion yuan ($86.4 billion) at the end of January this year. Total renminbi remittances for cross-boundary trade settlement reached 373.4 billion in the same month.

Lam believes Hong Kong's role should be far more than that.

"Hong Kong can also become an international hub for asset management and risk management, and, more importantly, a center for international asset pricing," he said.

"To achieve that, it needs to be more internationalized. We hope the central government could give the city more flexibility and authorization so that it can better take part in the game and act as a rule maker."

Lam admitted he already benefits from Hong Kong's internationalized financial system. His company went public on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 2009.

Recalling the process of financing, he said: "It was very difficult for mainland companies, especially private enterprises, to seek funding on the mainland market in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008. There were a lot of limitations at the time."

Lam said Hong Kong's biggest advantage is that it has an open capital market. "As a result, we were able to secure capital that's essential for our development and grow bigger."

(HK Edition 03/14/2018 page6)