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‘B&R’ creates space for development of Hong Kong

Author  :  LI YONGJIE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2017-06-23

A lady walks past landscape arrangements that were made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, more than 100 scholars recently gathered in Guangzhou to shed light on the opportunities and challenges presented by the “Belt and Road” (“B&R”) initiative to the special administrative region (SAR).

Held on June 11, the Symposium “Innovative Cooperation: Function Positioning and Transformation of Hong Kong under the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative” was co-hosted by the College of Economics and the Jing Wei Center for Economic Research on Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau at Jinan University.

Hong Kong has maintained sustained prosperity and stability since returning to China. Noting that the “B&R” initiative has brought greater development opportunities and space to the SAR, Lin Rupeng, secretary of the Party Committee of Jinan University, said that Hong Kong should build upon its advantages in finance, trade and professional services to promote “B&R” construction.

Liang Zhiwei, deputy director of the Department of Culture at the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, pointed out the need to build the SAR into a platform for cross-border industrial cooperation and transfer, and infrastructure construction collaboration as well as a service center for international legal dispute settlement in the Asia-Pacific region and a multi-functional shipping center for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Citing Hong Kong as a significant node of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, He Delong, deputy director of the Institute of Hong Kong and Macao Studies under the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said that the “B&R” initiative, which has far-reaching implications for the world economic pattern, will definitely reshape the external and internal environments and factors for the development of Hong Kong as well.

“This year, the central government has proposed building a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, which will exert a profound impact on the Pearl River Delta city clusters, accelerating regional integration, optimizing resource allocation and building new development platforms,” He said.

Had the Chinese mainland not carried out reform and opening up, Hong Kong would not be what it is today, said Ye Jia’an, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chair professor of urban planning and design at the Faculty of Architecture under the University of Hong Kong. 

In the initial stage of industrial development, Hong Kong relied on foreign capital, Ye said. After reform and opening up was launched on the mainland, the “Shop in Front, Factory at Back” model, under which the Pearl River Delta region produces goods while Hong Kong sells and exports them, has largely contributed to the fast growth of the SAR’s GDP.

Xie Guoliang, head of Hong Kong economy and policy research at the Bank of China, said that the model is a result of long-term, mutually beneficial cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong.

Based on his investigation, Xie stressed that the SAR has been more prosperous and consolidated its role as a global financial hub in the past two decades since returning to China. Refuting the theory that Hong Kong has slipped into a recession, he said the SAR’s success shows the tremendous vitality of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

Regarding Hong Kong’s in future global development, Xie said that the SAR is an internationalized operating arena for Chinese enterprises, which makes it more suitable as a platform for outbound venture capital and risk control.

In addition, he said it is important for Hong Kong to play its role as an offshore RMB center, encouraging countries along the “Belt and Road” to leverage Hong Kong to engage in RMB-denominated trade and finance, thereby strengthening the function of the currency in “B&R”-related construction projects.

Ni Pengfei, director of the Center for City and Competitiveness at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predicted that three city networks will come into being in East Asia, Europe and South Asia, respectively, in future global urban development.

“Cities like Beijing, Hong Kong and Bombay will be fulcrums to ‘weave’ these networks,” Ni said, adding that Hong Kong should gear itself up for the function and serve as the financial hub of the “B&R” initiative.

Editor: Yu Hui

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