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HK chief touts talent, tech prowess

Lee promotes SAR's GBA integration as it remains 'robust international hub'

By WANG XU and FLORENCE LI in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-06-15 08:36
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Aerial photo taken on July 16, 2020 shows the Wan Chai of Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

In the face of escalating geopolitical challenges, looming sanctions and intensifying regional competition, John Lee Ka-chiu, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, on Tuesday emphasized the SAR's strengths in technology, amount of talent and capital as it sets a determined course to consolidate its financial hub status and deepen its integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

"Hong Kong has always been lucky to be an international city, fully connected to the world and at the same time being part of China," Lee said.

"We are endowed with this unique advantage of enjoying the connectivity with the world as well as the connectivity with mainland entities," he added, noting no other city in the world enjoys such a privilege.

To harness its advantages while addressing challenges, Lee said Hong Kong is actively working towards integration with the mainland, especially the GBA.

During the process, technological integration has emerged as a top priority for the SAR, as it seeks to enhance high-quality development and the growth of new quality productive forces.

"We believe that technological integration is vital for Hong Kong's growth. It not only benefits our city, but also contributes to our country's overall competitiveness," said Lee, adding that Hong Kong's commitment to technological advancement is underscored by its efforts to attract high-quality professionals from around the world.

In fact, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong government has introduced measures to optimize entry schemes for outstanding talent, resulting in a rise in the population to about 7.5 million people, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This influx of talent is expected to drive innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting the development of existing industries while paving the way for emerging sectors.

In addition, Hong Kong is also actively pursuing capital integration to reinforce its financial sector. Despite challenges posed by geopolitical dynamics, the city's financial system remains stable and lucrative, with active stock market trading and increased financial connectivity with the Chinese mainland.

On Monday, the SAR's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po told China Daily in an interview that Hong Kong's financial sector has been resilient, and the city is still "a robust international hub".

"With total deposits reaching HKD 16.2 trillion ($2.07 trillion) by March 2024 in the banking industry, the Hang Seng Index surged by 19.9 percent from its lowest point in January, and the average daily trading volume in the Hong Kong stock market increased by 3 percent year-on-year," Chan said. "Hong Kong's position is unshakable as a vital gateway for international investors seeking access to both Chinese and global financial markets."

Nevertheless, Hong Kong faces challenges, primarily of a political nature as the SAR's financial center has experienced some fluctuations influenced by political gestures from the Western powers.

"However, wise investors recognize the long-term potential of Hong Kong and its ability to weather short-term disruptions," Lee said, adding that political influence on the market is transient, and wise investors base their decisions on economic development and opportunities rather than short-term fluctuations.

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