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Playing its role in 'Chinese miracle'

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong and Zhou Mo in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-09 09:41
Thousands of containers pile up at a terminal in a Hong Kong port. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Unwavering commitment

Choi is a living embodiment of the unwavering commitment from Hong Kong that's contributed to the nation's reform and opening-up.

When meeting a delegation from Hong Kong and Macao celebrating the 40th anniversary of the economic reform, President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong and Macao, from their unique positions, have played indispensable roles in the nation's reforms.

During the same celebrations in Beijing last November, five people from the two special administrative regions were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the country's advancement.

Since the start of reform and opening-up, Hong Kong has been the largest contributor of overseas direct investment on the Chinese mainland. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Hong Kong had contributed accumulatively more than $1.1 trillion in foreign capital to the mainland by the end of last year, accounting for 54 percent of total foreign direct investment.

People like Choi brought in more than just capital. They created millions of jobs in the mainland and brought talent, standards, market philosophy and management systems to the country. These contributors from Hong Kong became a key force in the nation's economy over the past 70 years.

China has risen up and become the world's second-largest economy. Between 1979 and 2008, the Chinese economy posted average annual GDP growth of 9.8 percent, 6.8 percentage points higher than the worldwide average for that period. That is the economic miracle that has lifted 800 million people out of poverty over the past four decades.

A stronger China has given Hong Kong strong backing. At every turn, the central government has lent a helping hand to the city: during the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and five years later with the signing of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, a major trade agreement benefiting Hong Kong.

Clarion call

The "one country, two systems" principle made it possible for Hong Kong to maintain its Capitalist system and social norms, while the Chinese mainland continued on its course of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

"'One country, two systems' is a pioneering initiative that has no precedent to follow," Xi said at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the inauguration ceremony of the fifth special administrative region government in 2017.

The application of the principle, widely believed to be generally smooth and successful, has met what Xi described as "some new developments and new issues".

A recent one is the unrest that has rocked the city since June 9. The turmoil, sparked by the extradition amendment bill, has turned into an anti-government movement, with some overtly challenging the "one country, two systems" principle.

The solution, as foretold by Xi, is for Hong Kong to improve its systems to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests. It needs to enhance education and raise public awareness of the history and culture of the Chinese nation, he said in his speech.

Nevertheless, the "one country, two systems" arrangement has given rise to many of the nation's groundbreaking ventures by Hong Kong enterprises, including the Zhongshan Hot Springs Resort, the first hotel funded by overseas capital, and its first joint venture, Beijing Air Catering.

Capitalizing on the booming manufacturing industry on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, a former fishing port, evolved from low-end manufacturing into a top service-oriented economy.

"This paved the way for Hong Kong's successful transformation into an important bridge linking the mainland and the global market, and enabled Hong Kong to establish and reinforce its present position as an international commercial, logistics, shipping, financial and professional service center," Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in October last year.

The development path of Hong Kong can also be viewed through the career trajectory of Wong Ting-chung, chairman and CEO of Nameson Holdings. The textile tycoon was able to turn his six-member family workshop into a listed company engaged in many sectors.

Wong credits his success to reform and opening-up and to the evolving Belt and Road Initiative.

Established in 1990, the company, with a peak workforce of 14,000, was first relocated to Dongguan and Huizhou in Guangdong province in 1992 and then moved to Vietnam and Cambodia, two countries involved in the BRI.

The BRI initiative, inaugurated by Xi in 2013, aims to enhance trade and economic integration across Asia, Europe and Africa.

The BRI promises larger and more lucrative markets for Hong Kong. It also sent out a clarion call to more traditional Hong Kong enterprises, that it was time to modernize and improve their competitiveness or risk being left behind, Wong said.

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