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Leung finds big HK role in Belt and Road plan

By Alfred Romann | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-08 07:20

Leung finds big HK role in Belt and Road plan

Leung Chun-ying (center), Hong Kong chief executive, speaks at the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable discussions in Hong Kong on Dec 7, 2016. [Photo/China Daily]

Three years after the official launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, there is much greater understanding of the opportunities that it could generate, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Wednesday.

"People understand the whys and the whats ... we are now very much at the 'how' stage. How do we grab the opportunities for all?" said Leung. "People who see opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative are probably in the silent majority."

"It is such a vast initiative with such wide ramifications and ample opportunities for Hong Kong," Leung said during the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable in Hong Kong.

The event focused on "Hong Kong Super-Connecting the Belt and Road" and was attended by around 270 executives and opinion leaders.

"Hong Kong can play a pivotal role in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative," Leung said.

At a time of slowing growth, Hong Kong can leverage its strength in financing, services, logistics and education to act as a connector of the 60-plus Belt and Road countries and regions and the rest of the world.

A key area of focus is financial services, the openness of which has allowed Hong Kong's economy to be named the freest in the world for 22 years in a row, said Leung.

In practical terms, Hong Kong has been moving forward in each of what Leung called the "five connectivities" of policy, infrastructure, trade and investment, financial cooperation and integration, and people and culture.

"Hong Kong could work as a team to help 'Hong Kong Inc' to bring this connective force to bear," said Leung.

Other speakers at the leadership roundtable agreed with the importance of leveraging the Belt and Road Initiative to boost growth.

"Hong Kong's own success relies entirely on trade flows and open markets. Hong Kong has become too inward-looking and less open in recent years. Almost protectionist, sometimes," said Stephen Ng, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

"The implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative has caught the attention of the business community in Hong Kong," said Jonathan Choi, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.

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