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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
From vision to action
    2017-September-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht0620@126.com

HONG KONG’S unique role as the “super-connector” between the Chinese mainland and the rest of world is not a stable one. In a fast-changing society, the city needs to adapt to the new environment and take decisive action to maintain its position.

In order to remain highly relevant to the mainland’s economic development and benefit from it, Hong Kong must try its best to align with national strategies. The Belt & Road Initiative, as an example, is a national economic development strategy that has already connected China with 65 countries and 4.4 billion people, forming a group generating about 40 percent of the world’s GDP. As China is progressing with her vision of reviving ancient trade links, the landmark initiative offers an alluring prospect for Hong Kong to eye bigger, aim higher, seize more opportunities and go more global.

To foster more concrete cooperation under the initiative, on Sept. 11 this year, more than 2,500 dignitaries and officials from all over the world attended the 2nd Belt & Road Summit in Hong Kong. This year’s forum was focused on infrastructure and opportunities for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. ASEAN is comprised of 10 member states, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia.

Hong Kong is expected to enter into free trade agreements with the 10 ASEAN countries at the end of this year. The signing of the agreements will not only bring cooperation between Hong Kong and these nations to a new level, but also lay a solid foundation for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

As a regional international organization, ASEAN was founded in 1967 and just celebrated its 50th anniversary in August this year. The attitude of ASEAN nations towards China is deeply influenced by the United States. During the initial stage, these countries were antagonistic towards China. Their attitude changed terrifically in 1972 after then U.S. President Richard Nixon made a landmark visit to China that year, hoping to establish diplomatic relations.

In my point of view, with geological proximity and cultural similarity, China has regarded ASEAN as a priority in its neighboring diplomacy. ASEAN nations are wonderful business partners for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. The 10 countries now have 650 million people and their total GDP reached US$2,550 billion in 2016. Meanwhile, China has been the biggest trading partner of ASEAN for eight consecutive years. Last year, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN was as high as US$452.2 billion. Also in 2016, more than 38 million people traveled between the two sides.

Besides a close economic partnership, ASEAN countries share much more common ground with China. They were once invaded by the United States or Japan, so all of them have a strong desire to be independent and get rid of poverty. Moreover, ASEAN countries have a similar cultural root and world outlook with China. They are also deeply influenced and nourished by Confucian teachings.

As for Hong Kong, the special administrative region of China has its unique advantages in joining hands with ASEAN countries.

Firstly, in order to give more incentives to Hong Kong, the Chinese Central Government will sign a new cooperation agreement with the special administrative region to give full play to the city’s unique position under the “one country, two systems” principle. The agreement will cover important areas such as finance, fundraising, infrastructure construction, trade and investment facilitation, as well as forging people-to-people exchanges.

Secondly, Hong Kong has been recognized as the world’s freest economy and most competitive region. On the one hand, the pioneering role of finance in defining the mainland’s position in the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative fits well with the city’s edge as a global financial hub. Meanwhile, the city’s financial status is also greatly bolstered by its function as the gateway to the mainland stock markets under the existing stock connect programs with Shanghai and Shenzhen. On the other hand, with more and more international use of the renminbi as an irreversible trend, Hong Kong is an ideal place to serve as an offshore money settlement center.

Apart from these advantages, the city’s unique role also lies in high degree of globalization, its social, cultural, legal systems and a large pool of high-caliber talent, which are well connected with the world.

If Hong Kong businesses can leverage their existing advantages and capture new opportunities, the city will surely become a key beneficiary of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

 

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