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Hong Kong is back on track to true prosperity

By Clarence Ling | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-21 02:30
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Clarence Ling says city is benefiting from safer environment and more diversified opportunities

Hong Kong, a city bridging its motherland to and for the international market, has been operating under the "one country, two systems" principle since 1997. Under this principle, the city's prosperity has continued to be safeguarded by its world-leading institutional environment, market efficiency and social stability.

In 2019, such a foundation and the core values of Hong Kong were threatened by months of violent protests. The alleged freedom veiling radical acts in fact, were at the expense of social order and created immense business interruptions and uncertainty. During that period, Hong Kong's business environment and our daily lives were deeply traumatized by widespread violence, some of which could be regarded as terrorist activities. Even worse, such chaos undermined the effectiveness of the government's anti-pandemic efforts in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.

To end the social chaos which conflicted the spirit of the rule of law, the National Security Law was legislated on June 30 last year.

That was the major turning point in Hong Kong's transition from chaos to order. Since then, stability has been restored and riots have disappeared. We can finally go to the office and meet our business partners with peace of mind. Confirmation of the electoral reform in March this year brought further hope to Hong Kong's political environment for the long run.

Sunday marked a very important day for all of us in Hong Kong, the first election after our electoral reform. It is also a very important first step to bringing Hong Kong back to stability and security after being hit hard in the 2019 social chaos.

In this election for the Election Committee that will vote for our next Chief Executive of Hong Kong, 34 members from the All-China Youth Federation were elected. For the first time in the history, we have an independent category in the committee truly representing Hong Kong youths with different backgrounds, from various sectors and industries.

With the combination of NSL and the COVID-19 situation under control, Hong Kong's economy has bounced back significantly. In the first half of this year, its GDP rose by 7.6 percent year-on-year, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent. We also saw a return of IPOs, reaffirming Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, raising over HK$500 billion (US$64.2 billion) in the 12 months up till this June, up over 50 percent from the previous 12 months when Hong Kong was in chaos.

In addition, the National 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) offered brand-new opportunities.

Apart from its existing strengths, Hong Kong has unique advantages in developing the innovation and technology sector with its solid research basis. The National 14th Five-Year Plan indicated clear support for Hong Kong's development into an international innovation and technology center, better integration into the overall development of the country as well as deepening co-operation between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

The National 14th Five-Year Plan encouraged Hong Kong to leverage on its access to domestic resources for its innovation sector and embrace a positive attitude in striving for further development amid the headwinds, opening-up opportunities especially for young people who are interested in technology.

In September, the central government announced two ambitious plans related to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area:

• Major expansions of the QianhaiShenzhen - Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, and

• The Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin

These have received a magnificent response from the business community in Hong Kong and Macao as the young entrepreneurs and professionals are actively seeking growth opportunities in the mainland.

We firmly believe that the National Security Law and the electoral reform both ensured the steady implementation of "one country, two systems", and on top of that, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government can finally do what is best for the city and focus on carrying out different policies that are beneficial to the better development of Hong Kong.

Over past years, our lives and some of the business models have changed drastically. However, the exceptional business environment and our continued belief in Hong Kong are unchanged. Given a safer environment and more diversified opportunities for all investors, domestically and from abroad, together we can carry Hong Kong forward to a brighter future!

The author is chairman of the Y.Elites Association, and a national committee member of the All-China Youth Federation and committee member of Zhongshan Committee, CPPCC.

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