HK-Indonesia ties growing

Financial Secretary Paul Chan

It was just last year that Hong Kong established an Economic & Trade Office (ETO) in Jakarta. In July this year I had the great pleasure of visiting Indonesia – both in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in honour of the formal opening of the Jakarta ETO.

 

In June, our two economies signed an agreement on the automatic exchange of financial account information for tax purposes.

 

And just last month, Hong Kong and the 10 member states of ASEAN, of which Indonesia is the founding member, formally signed a free trade agreement (FTA). The FTA is both ambitious and comprehensive in scope. It is designed to boost trade and investment between Hong Kong and ASEAN, our second-largest trading partner in merchandise trade.

 

As for Indonesia, our bilateral trade totalled nearly US$5 billion. And I am confident that it will expand, and considerably, in the coming years, thanks to the ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA.

 

Thanks, too, to the establishment of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

 

Your chamber will become a critical source of trade and commercial intelligence and networking, serving the Indonesian business community as it pursues opportunities here in Hong Kong or, through Hong Kong, targets the vast Chinese Mainland market. To be sure, that includes the far-reaching opportunities presented by the Mainland’s visionary Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development.

 

Whatever the opportunity, I look forward to working with you and to helping Hong Kong and Indonesian businesses flourish together.

 

I wish the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong every success in the years ahead.

 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave these remarks at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Inauguration Ceremony on November 30.

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HK a base for art, culture

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

I first attended this forum in 2006 in my then capacity as the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs. I took part in this forum as the Chief Secretary for Administration. I am glad to be back as the Chief Executive, particularly given that this year is the 10th anniversary of the forum – and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong is a multifaceted city and the Chief Executive of the HKSAR, naturally, has many challenges. But I can assure you that having been responsible for Hong Kong’s cultural policy in (the) Home Affairs Bureau and the chairperson of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board, arts and culture is very close to my heart, and will occupy an important place in my policy (portfolio).

 

Why should culture be given increasing prominence by government leaders? In his work report to the 19th Congress last month, President Xi Jinping said that culture is a country and nation’s soul. Our country will thrive only if our culture thrives, and our nation will be strong only if our culture is strong. Without full confidence in our culture, without a rich and prosperous culture, the Chinese nation will not be able to rejuvenate itself. That’s why President Xi, in his work report, acknowledges that to meet the people’s new aspirations for a better life, we must provide them with rich intellectual nourishment, and hence the promotion of the development of cultural programmes and industries.

 

For the next few moments, just allow me to share Hong Kong’s vision for cultural development. The theme of this year’s Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum, namely “Cultural Sustainability in a Dynamic World: Connecting Diversity”, reflects the traditional Chinese virtue of harmony, in which cultures co-exist peacefully, all the while maintaining their singular sensibilities.

 

East and West

Not surprisingly, it echoes our own vision: to develop Hong Kong into an international cultural capital with a distinct identity – one rooted in Chinese tradition uniquely enriched by a blessed bounty of other cultures. In short, Hong Kong is a proud confluence of East and West. And this historically grounded gift – our cultural diversity – has created an enabling environment, allowing a great continuum of cultural businesses and ventures to flourish.

 

Thanks to our strategic location at the heart of Asia and our long-established role as the gateway to the Mainland, Hong Kong offers rewarding access to opportunities throughout the region.

 

In recent years, international art fairs and renowned galleries have chosen Hong Kong as their Asian base, injecting creative and commercial vitality into our local art scene. In Hong Kong today, auction houses fetch record-breaking prices for art and antiques, making Hong Kong amongst the largest art markets in the world. At the same time, they have opened the world to the beauty and brilliance of Asia’s many cultures. This has set in motion buoyant art markets that have helped in the rise of Asian art and artists to global prominence.

 

Rich heritage

Hong Kong also embodies a heritage rich in tradition. And this diversity has provided renewed inspiration to the cultural and creative industries. Just as the cheongsam, or qipao, has claimed the world’s fashion runways, so, too, will Chinese opera find its rightful place, thanks to the spotlight our fast-emerging West Kowloon Cultural District will give it. West Kowloon’s Xiqu Centre, expressly designed to showcase Chinese opera, scheduled to open next year, is proudly the district’s first major performing arts venue.

 

Cantonese opera, which is on the local, national and UNESCO lists of intangible cultural heritage, is gaining popularity amongst our youth. Indeed, two of our gifted child artists performed Cantonese opera during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong in July, right on the site where the West Kowloon Cultural District is going to be.

 

The much talked about Belt & Road Initiative will re-invent tradition on a much grander scale. The ancient Silk Road was opened up by the imperial envoy Zhang Qian back in the Han dynasty. In the Ming dynasty, Admiral Zheng He shaped the Maritime Silk Road. Today, the Belt & Road Initiative is connecting people, places and ideas. It will engender a profusion of cultural and people-to-people bonds. This reality gave me much pleasure this afternoon in officiating at the opening of the exhibition “Miles upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road.”

 

A globalised, urbanised, tech-savvy world is not necessarily at odds with tradition. Rather, it can present us with opportunities to rediscover and revitalise our time-bound cultures. Together, we can realise a renaissance of traditional cultures, creating new values in the meeting of yesterday and today. This is what we envision as cultural sustainability in a dynamic world.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum 2017 Gala Dinner on November 28.

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HK best for business

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

This is an auspicious year for Hong Kong as we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Over the past 20 years, we have seen increasing economic integration with the Mainland of China. This has brought, and will continue to bring, heightened opportunities to us. This is also a special year for Hong Kong and the ASEAN, especially in the context of a more progressive strategy to strengthen Hong Kong’s relationship with Southeast Asia. Apart from signing the Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA (Free Trade Agreement), we opened our second Economic & Trade Office in ASEAN situated in Jakarta, Indonesia, earlier this year (hitherto, our first and only representation in the entire ASEAN region used to be just Singapore) and in my maiden Policy Address delivered last month, I announced the setting up of a third office in Bangkok, Thailand. Since taking office on July 1, I have already visited four ASEAN nations – Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, to call on leaders, to renew ties and to explore further co-operation.

 

Two important events have also taken place earlier this year which put Asia on the spotlight. China hosted the first heavyweight Belt & Road Summit in Beijing in May while the APEC Economic Leaders gathered in Da Nang, Vietnam, in November to discuss issues of mutual concern. Indeed, the Asian perspectives are becoming increasingly important for practical reasons. For the past 25 years or so, Asia’s economy has grown by around 6% a year and several countries therein have become economic powerhouses. As a result, the world economy, at least in terms of GDP, is shifting east and south at an extraordinary speed, and many Asian enterprises have emerged not only responding to their domestic populous markets, but also entering the competitive global stage. It is widely expected that Asia will continue to be the engine of global economic growth for the foreseeable future.

 

Connectivity has long been Hong Kong’s recipe for success. As a global trade, business and tourism centre, Hong Kong’s extensive networks of business and professional links would not be possible without the physical infrastructure to make it happen. Our international airport lies at the heart of Asia and serves as a hub that puts half of the world’s population within a five-hour flight. Our port serves some 500 destinations worldwide. We are well connected by road and rail to Guangdong Province and the Pearl River Delta, which are powerhouses in manufacturing and high-tech industries. These land links will be significantly enhanced as within the next 12 to 18 months, we will commission three major pieces of cross-boundary infrastructure which will significantly transform our links with the Mainland and beyond, accelerating the flow of goods, people, capital and information between Hong Kong and the Mainland. In doing so, they will underscore our status as the region’s trade, business and logistics hub, boosting opportunities for Hong Kong and for the companies that partner with Hong Kong.

 

First is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world’s longest combined sub-sea tunnel and bridge, which will cut journey time between the Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai or Macao from four hours to about 45 minutes, accelerating our economic integration with the western Pearl River Delta region. Indeed, most of the Pearl River Delta’s major cities will be reachable within a three-hour drive.

 

Second is the 26km Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link which will slash journey time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, on a non-stop basis, to just 48 minutes. No less important, it will connect Hong Kong to our country’s national rail network and its 22,000km of high-speed track.

 

Third is a new border crossing, our seventh land boundary control point, which will greatly enhance the connection between Hong Kong and the eastern part of Shenzhen, Huizhou and all the way to the Fujian Province.

 

Increased connections will mean new development opportunities for Hong Kong. Our enhanced connectivity will be particularly valuable to Hong Kong as the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development gain traction.

 

The bay area, which counts nine Guangdong cities, along with Macao and Hong Kong, is China’s most affluent region. The bay area will allow us to draw on the combined strengths of the participating cities and their 66 million inhabitants, bringing immense prospects to Hong Kong and our trading partners.

 

The twin corridors of the Belt & Road are home to more than 60 economies in the three continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. As President Xi Jinping said at the APEC CEO Summit earlier this month, the Belt & Road Initiative is from China, but it belongs to the world; it is rooted in history, but oriented towards the future. It will enhance not only connectivity in trade, but also interconnected development in infrastructure, policies, financial services and people-to-people bond.

 

As a founding member of the World Trade Organization, Hong Kong is a staunch supporter of free trade. For 23 years in a row, we have been ranked as the world’s freest economy by the Heritage Foundation. Free and open economy, well connected to the outside world, underpins Hong Kong’s prosperity. We have benefitted immensely from free trade which is instrumental in developing Hong Kong into an international trade and business centre as it is today. We shall continue to enhance connectivity and achieve interconnected development.

 

However, despite all the benefits free trade and connected development can bring, we do see recently some worrying signs of rising protectionism. Why would this happen? One reason could be that the gains brought by economic globalisation have not been enjoyed by all, giving rise to social discontent, income disparity and a growing sense of disconnect, especially between the government and the people, particularly young people. It is tempting to blame free trade for such social problems, and protectionism may easily gain popularity, but the fundamental solution lies in making economic development more inclusive and delivering benefits to our people.

 

Inclusive growth is highly relevant in the age of globalisation. Economies in Asia must redouble their efforts to advance economic, financial and social inclusion, with a vision to build an inclusive, accessible, sustainable, healthy and resilient community. As a government, we must advance progress towards achieving full, productive and quality employment; and progressively achieve and sustain income growth for all members of society, especially women, and youth, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, and enable them to seize global opportunities.

 

Building an inclusive community is, and will continue to be my Government’s priority. In this respect, it is relevant to note that some 60% of our recurrent budget is spent on education, social welfare and medical services; spending on social welfare and poverty alleviation has surged by 71% in the past five years with a range of initiatives pioneered by the Commission on Poverty which I chaired in my former capacity as the Chief Secretary for Administration. We will continue to enhance the standard of living of all members of the community, so that they can feel the benefits brought by free trade and economic growth.

 

A greater concern for the natural environment and a commitment to sustainable growth should, in my view, be another important dimension of Asia trade. As responsible global citizens, we must actively tackle climate change, improve air and water quality and reduce waste.

 

Hong Kong is able to benefit from connected, inclusive and sustainable growth in the past 20 years under “one country, two systems”. We enjoy unique advantages under “one country, two systems”. We are an international financial centre and are universally acknowledged as among the best cities in the world for doing business. Our fibre network, capable of carrying high-speed broadband, covers the entire city. Our legal and professional services are highly regarded. And it’s all underpinned by the rule of law, an independent judiciary and rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law.

 

Hong Kong’s longstanding prowess in trade, coupled with our financial, legal and administrative expertise, and experience, can play a pivotal role in Asia trade in the new global order. Indeed, in the latest WTO survey, Hong Kong is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of merchandise trade and 15th largest commercial services exporter. We are world-class importers as well, ranking seventh in goods and 17th in services. We trade with more than 200 countries and regions, creating opportunities for millions upon millions of people.

 

But there is no room for complacency. In taking Hong Kong’s economy forward, I said in my Policy Address that we will continue to respect the rules governing the economy and market operations, and promote free trade. At the same time, we will leverage our unique advantages under “one country, two systems”. We will inject new and continuous impetus to Hong Kong’s economy through playing new roles of facilitation and promotion and making timely investments. We will conduct more government-to-government dialogues with the Mainland and overseas countries.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asia House Signature Conference on November 27.

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Building a caring HK

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

I just want to pay warm tribute to HSBC for launching this very, very meaningful community day. It’s a very worthy cause to pursue. It also reflects the corporate social responsibility of HSBC over the years. I am a beneficiary over the years because I have been Secretary for Labour & Welfare for many years. Whenever I went to functions sponsored by HSBC, I knew the people would benefit, at the grassroots, as you are really, really generous on that score. The current-term Government is determined to build a more caring, compassionate and cohesive community in Hong Kong. That is why we will be investing more heavily in livelihood areas. For every $100 we spend every day now for the Government, $21.5 goes to education. Close to $20, to be exact, goes to social welfare. And $17 goes to medical and health. But we need community support and also business participation as well. So tripartite co-operation involving the Government, the business community and the NGOs, like the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, will be the recipe for success in really building a more caring community. Our motto for the current term is really to connect for hope and happiness. I am sure that working together will make Hong Kong a better place in which to live, to work, to do business and also to really have a family here. So on that note, thank you once again HSBC. Thank you Hong Kong Council of Social Service — although you don’t contribute money, you contribute energy and contribute co-operation on that score. Thank you so much.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of HSBC Hong Kong Community Festival 2017 on November 26.

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HK bringing artists to light

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

I, and many others, have been eagerly looking forward to this debut in Hong Kong of Lyon’s spectacular festival of lights. So I am sure we are all delighted that the long wait is over, and Lumieres Hong Kong starts today, in time to help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

 

And for that, there is a great constellation of individuals and organisations to thank. But let me begin with France, a long-time cultural exchange partner of Hong Kong. Thanks to the dedication of the people from both places, the ties between Hong Kong and France are strengthening over the years in all aspects, including trade and investment, engineering and aviation, design and wine, etc. But let me focus on arts and culture on this particular occasion. Le French May, which was inaugurated back in 1993, has become one of the most successful cultural festivals in Hong Kong. Under the auspices of the festival, we have watched, listened to and tasted the best of the French culture. Today, the team behind this festival is bringing us Lumieres Hong Kong.

 

Lumieres Hong Kong is inspired by the world-renowned Fete des Lumieres in the French city of Lyon, which began in the 19th Century and takes place every December. I am delighted that the Lyon festival not only provides us with the inspiration, but is also partnering with Lumieres Hong Kong.

 

With Lumieres Hong Kong, the organisers including our own Leisure & Cultural Services Department have selected local and international artists to shed their creative light – their video projections, installations and street art – on 16 Hong Kong landmarks: the Cultural Centre’s Clock Tower, City Hall, Statue Square, PMQ, Man Mo Temple, the Lan Kwai Fong Amphitheatre and more.

 

While our own Symphony of Lights spectacular showcases Victoria Harbour, Lumieres Hong Kong embraces Central, SoHo and Tsim Sha Tsui, lighting the way for locals and visitors into the heart of Hong Kong, and into the heart of Hong Kong culture and entertainment as well. It highlights our heritage buildings and the light installations give an extra perspective for us to appreciate their beauty. In addition, music, dance, circus shows, family fun and a world of dining all fall under the spell of the festival’s enchanting light.

 

With the objectives to benefit the widest audience possible, and to involve the different communities of Hong Kong, I am glad to learn that Lumieres Hong Kong will host education and outreach programmes dedicated to the young, students and special needs groups. In particular, there will be docent tours for the disadvantaged, in order to promote community engagement and make art accessible to all.

 

Just as important, Lumieres Hong Kong brings overseas and local artists to light. We always seek to raise the profile of our artists through increasing the exposure of their works, as well as their exposure to other people’s works. Lumieres Hong Kong expands the frontier of public arts; having urban landmarks as the backdrop of artworks is surely a special experience for our artists.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of Lumieres Hong Kong on November 23.

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HK a regional logistics hub

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, we reflect on our past achievements under “one country, two systems” and aim to map out a new vision for Hong Kong. Speaking of achievements, the trading and logistics industry is one of the four top pillar industries of Hong Kong, contributing about 22% of our gross domestic product and 20% of our employment. These did not happen by coincidence, but for the reason that Hong Kong values and embraces free trade. This conviction has helped nurture our trading industry over the years. Logistics, being the sector that underpins trading, has also benefitted and grown.

 

And it is logistics – the power of linking economies and industries, people, products and services – that will help us realise the connections we need to function and flourish in this era of connectivity.

 

We have what it takes to do well in the logistics sector. Strategically located at the heart of Asia, Hong Kong is connected to the world and Mainland China by a world-class international airport, a container terminal renowned for its efficiency, and extensive land crossings. With our well-developed multi-modal transport network, the logistics industry is highly flexible in moving goods from one corner of the world to another.

 

Hong Kong International Airport hosts some 100 airlines operating more than 1,100 flights a day, with regular and direct services to about 220 destinations, including more than 50 in the Mainland of China. Last year, our airport managed over 70 million passengers and 4.5 million tonnes of cargo. In the first 10 months of this year, cargo was up 9.9% year on year. It did not come as a surprise, as our airport has been the world’s busiest for international air cargo since 1996.

 

We have no plans to relinquish our global leadership. Instead, we seek to consolidate our position by moving ahead with a three-runway system for the airport. The project includes reclamation of some 650 hectares of land, construction of a third runway, a new concourse, and state-of-the-art people-moving and baggage-handling systems. Upon project completion, the airport will have the capacity to handle about 100 million passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo a year.

 

The booming growth of e-commerce has generated an ever-increasing demand for cross-border logistics and delivery services, in particular air mail and transshipment services. To cope with this growth, Hongkong Post is holding discussions with the Airport Authority and other postal authorities on the expansion of the Air Mail Centre at the airport in order to enhance its capacity and operation efficiency. DHL has just announced its plan to inject $3 billion to expand its Central Asia Hub in Hong Kong in partnership with the Airport Authority. The expansion will not only bolster the company’s operational capacity in Asia Pacific, but also facilitate the rapidly growing international trade demands in the region and around the world.

 

As for maritime transport, Hong Kong is home to one of the world’s largest shipping communities, with 9.6% of the world’s merchant fleet and a dynamic maritime cluster offering wide-ranging shipping services. Indeed, later this evening, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association will be hosting its 60th anniversary celebration reception.

 

Hong Kong Port is already one of the busiest container ports in the world, and it enables about 330 container vessel services a week to some 470 destinations worldwide. As mentioned in my Policy Address, to entrench Hong Kong’s position as a diversified international maritime centre, the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board established by the Government is actively working with the industry to formulate a comprehensive strategy to bolster and promote the development of Hong Kong’s maritime industry and high value-added maritime services, and encourage overseas maritime enterprises to set up a presence in Hong Kong. The Government is also actively implementing port enhancement measures to maintain the competitiveness of Hong Kong Port, including provision of additional terminal yard space and barge berths in phases to increase the container handling capacity of the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals and the better use of back-up land of the terminals.

 

Despite the improvement in air and maritime transport, I would say that the most exciting developments are on the ground. When I said “exciting”, this is no exaggeration, as in the next 12 to 18 months Hong Kong will commission three major pieces of cross-border infrastructure that will significantly transform our links with the Mainland and beyond, accelerating the flow of goods, people, capital and information between Hong Kong and the Mainland. In doing so, they will underscore our status as the region’s business and logistical hub, boosting opportunities for Hong Kong and for the companies that partner with Hong Kong.

 

First is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world’s longest combined sub-sea tunnel and bridge, which will cut journey time between Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai or Macau from four hours to about 45 minutes, accelerating our economic integration with the western Pearl River Delta region. Indeed, most of the Pearl River Delta’s major cities will be reachable within a three-hour drive.

 

Second is the 26km Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link which will slash journey time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, on a non-stop basis, to just 48 minutes. No less important, it will connect Hong Kong to our country’s national rail network and its 22,000 kilometres of high-speed track.

 

Third is a new border crossing, our seventh land boundary control point, which will greatly enhance the connection between Hong Kong and the eastern part of Shenzhen, Huizhou and all the way to Fujian Province.

 

Increased connections will mean new development opportunities for Hong Kong. Our enhanced connectivity will be particularly valuable to Hong Kong as the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development gain traction.

 

The bay area, which counts nine Guangdong cities, along with Macau and Hong Kong, is China’s most affluent region. The signing of a co-operation framework agreement by the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau on July 1 this year presents outsized opportunities for logistics in the bay area. The bay area will allow us to draw on the combined strengths of the participating cities and their 66 million inhabitants, bringing immense prospects to Hong Kong and our logistics sector.

 

The twin corridors of the Belt & Road are home to more than 60 economies. Hong Kong Port has marine cargo movement with about 45 of these economies. And we have signed air services agreements or international air transit agreements with 42 of them. These established ties give Hong Kong a decided edge in meeting the increasing need for a logistics sector and services in the Belt & Road regions, particularly in emerging economies where quality logistics services are in great demand.

 

The bay area development and the Belt & Road Initiative will be important drivers for Hong Kong’s economic growth in the coming years. My Government is determined to capitalise on Hong Kong’s traditional strengths to seize those opportunities through proactive policies, facilitating measures, timely investment and stepped-up promotions. As the logistics sector is a globalised industry, we are committed to working with you all to create more opportunities for our respective businesses and people, especially the younger generation.

 

Hong Kong has long been the region’s pre-eminent logistics hub and an international maritime centre. With the concerted efforts of the Government and all concerned, I am confident this great sector will continue to grow, continue to reward us all.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asian Logistics & Maritime Conference on November 23.

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HK accessing opportunities

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

There is much to look forward to today, thanks to a timely theme – “Asian Perspectives in a New Global Economy”. Indeed, the Asian perspectives are becoming increasingly important. For the past 25 years or so, Asia’s economy has grown by around 6% a year and several countries therein have become economic powerhouses. As a result, the world economy, at least in terms of GDP, is shifting east and south at an extraordinary speed, and many Asian enterprises have emerged not only responding to their domestic populous markets, but also entering the competitive global stage. It is widely expected that Asia will continue to be the engine of global economic growth for the foreseeable future.

 

Asia has attracted worldwide attention earlier this month as world leaders gathered in Da Nang, Vietnam, for the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting 2017. I represented Hong Kong, China, at the meeting, and had a fruitful discussion with the leaders under the theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”. The APEC meeting was followed by the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Summit held in the Philippines, and the many formal dialogue and informal exchanges between state leaders had for a while dominated the news domain.

 

APEC members have a diverse profile as it is not an easy task to find consensus among all, but we managed to do it in Vietnam in the form of the Da Nang Declaration of November 11. In the declaration, the leaders expressed the determination to promote sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth, deepen regional economic integration, realise the full potential of the business sector, and enhance food security and sustainable agriculture. The Da Nang Declaration has provided much insight into how we should respond to a new global economy. But it is in the keynote address delivered by President Xi Jinping at the APEC CEO Summit that I find that Asian perspective clear and loud.

 

In a speech entitled “Seizing the Opportunity of a Global Economy in Transition & Accelerating Development of the Asia-Pacific”, President Xi said that economic globalisation has contributed to global growth and has become an irreversible trend; we should make it more open and inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and beneficial to all. This is what I intend to share from a Hong Kong perspective – that we should embrace connectivity, inclusiveness and sustainability in the new global economy.

 

As a founder member of the World Trade Organization, Hong Kong is a staunch supporter of free trade. For 23 years in a row, we have been ranked as the world’s freest economy by the Heritage Foundation. Free and open economy, well connected to the outside world, is Hong Kong’s recipe of success. We have benefited immensely from free trade which is instrumental in developing Hong Kong into an international trade and business centre as it is today. We should continue to enhance connectivity and achieve interconnected development.

 

The two major national initiatives now in front of us – the Belt & Road and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development – present us with numerous opportunities for economic growth. Indeed, as President Xi said, the Belt & Road Initiative is from China, but it belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but is oriented towards the future. Hong Kong enjoys unique advantages in each of the five areas of connectivity under the Belt & Road Initiative – from financial services and trade practices to infrastructure and people-to-people bonds.

 

However, despite all the benefits free trade and connected development can bring, we do see recently some worrying signs of rising protectionism. Why would this happen? One reason could be that the gains brought by economic globalisation have not been enjoyed by all, giving rise to social discontent, income disparity and a growing sense of disconnect, especially between the government and the people, and particularly young people. It is tempting to blame free trade for such social problems, and protectionism may easily gain popularity, but the fundamental solution lies in making economic development more inclusive and delivering benefits to our people.

 

Inclusive growth is highly relevant in the age of globalisation. APEC leaders have therefore agreed to redouble the efforts to advance economic, financial and social inclusion, with a vision to build an inclusive, accessible, sustainable, healthy and resilient APEC community. An Action Agenda has been endorsed to, among others, advance progress towards achieving full, productive and quality employment, and progressively achieve and sustain income growth for all members of society, especially women, and youth, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, and enable them to seize global opportunities.

 

Building an inclusive community is exactly what my Government will do. In this respect, it is relevant to note that almost 60% of the government recurrent budget is spent on education, social welfare and medical services; spending on social welfare and alleviation of poverty has increased by 71% in the past five years with a range of initiatives pioneered by the Commission on Poverty, which I chaired in my capacity as Chief Secretary. In this term of Government, we will continue to enhance the standard of living of all members of the community, so that they can feel the benefits brought by economic growth. In particular, we will continue to inject the needed resources in areas ranging from education and training to social security and medical services, and will lower the profits tax rate for small and medium enterprises. These measures will enable society to better adapt to the changing economic environment.

 

A concern for the natural environment and a commitment to sustainable growth should, in my view, be another important dimension of that Asian perspective. As a responsible global citizen, Hong Kong will actively tackle climate change pursuant to the Paris Summit. We have pledged to reduce carbon emissions, improve water quality and reduce waste.

Hong Kong is able to benefit from connected, inclusive and sustainable growth in the past 20 years under “one country, two systems”. We enjoy unique advantages under “one country, two systems”. We are an international financial centre and are universally acknowledged as among the best cities in the world for doing business. We have world-class logistics and communications infrastructure and a highly regarded services sector. And it’s all underpinned by the rule of law and an independent judiciary.

 

It means that Hong Kong is the best platform for governments and companies along the Belt & Road, and their infrastructure projects, to seek capital. Our bankers, lawyers, arbitrators, accountants, architects, engineers, planners, project managers, insurers and marketing and communications experts are also capable of providing all the services these companies need in their projects.

 

We are further enhancing Hong Kong’s attractiveness by establishing more bilateral and multilateral ties with the Mainland and overseas countries. One shining achievement is the free trade agreement signed earlier this month between Hong Kong and the 10 member nations of ASEAN, a key region in advancing the Belt & Road Initiative. Enhanced bilateral trade and investment relations with ASEAN can only mean more prospects for Hong Kong. That certainly includes helping ASEAN countries, and companies, find opportunities along the Belt & Road.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a pertinent saying that “opportunities are reserved for those who have made preparation”. In a globalised and highly competitive economy, I would venture to say that it is those who have made preparation (who) will be able to access these opportunities. Despite her past success, Hong Kong will not rest on her laurels. In my maiden Policy Address delivered last month, I have outlined how my Government will play proactive roles, introduce policy measures, make timely investments and promote our strengths in order to seize the many opportunities arising from a new global economy. With that, I am confident that we will (be) able to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, delivering benefits to all people in Hong Kong.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asia-Global Dialogue 2017 event on November 22.

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Education a meaningful investment

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The world is going through a phase of rapid urbanisation and globalisation. While this will improve the livelihood of people all over the world, we are also presented with new challenges, including the risk of emergence and spread of existing and new zoonotic diseases. The global scientific community has to gear up for the challenges ahead by adopting a more holistic approach in health risk management, which can be achieved by further developing the One Health concept to help us consider the health of humans, animals and the environment as an integrated whole.

 

The establishment of One Health Tower is therefore a timely and wise move. Located in the tower, City University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Life Sciences will maximise the use of the university’s veterinary medicine and life sciences expertise to achieve the aims of promoting inter-disciplinary research under the overarching theme of One Health and integrating knowledge discovery, clinical care and knowledge translation. I am most impressed by the college’s aspirations to pursue excellence in research in order to safeguard the community against zoonotic diseases, improve food safety standards, promote aquaculture and enhance animal welfare in Hong Kong and the region. I also commend City University on its determination and vision to blaze the trail and open Hong Kong’s first veterinary medical school. You are, indeed, a pioneer in every sense of the word. And on this note, I must pay tribute to CY Leung, who initiated the idea when he was Chairman of the Council (of CityU). The idea was very much Mr Leung’s brainchild when he presided over the council.

 

However, this pioneering move would not have been possible without the generous support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The Jockey Club has long been making substantial and generous donations to various charity and community projects in Hong Kong, with education being one of the key areas of donation. And I can add that, as the former Secretary for Labour & Welfare, I must pay warm tribute to the Jockey Club for investing a lot in our social development as well as helping the poor people of Hong Kong. So they invest not just in education, but across the whole spectrum of the community. You are really hugely generous on that score. In line with its long and proud tradition of investing in education to nurture talents to reinforce Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has pledged to donate $500 million to City University for this new building project. More importantly, this generous donation is the largest single gift that the University has ever received, and is also one of the top 10 largest ever donations made by the Charities Trust. The new building will be officially named Jockey Club One Health Tower. It will become the home of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Life Sciences and house the collaboration between veterinary and biomedical scientists under the One Health paradigm.

 

Thanks to the concerted efforts of researchers and unstinting contribution of donors, we can always take great pride in the remarkable achievements of our universities in the academic domain. We recognise that government expenditure in education is the most meaningful investment in our future, and we will continue to give full support to the researchers and students of local universities. In particular, to build a wider research talent pool to drive the development of an innovation and technology-based economy, the new-term Government announced already that the Government will inject $3 billion into the Research Endowment Fund to provide studentships for local students admitted to UGC-funded research postgraduate programmes, thereby incentivising more local students to engage in research work in support of the development of innovation and technology.

 

On this note, I would like to thank profusely the Hong Kong Jockey Club once again for your generous donation to the higher education sector and for our younger generation. I am sure that, with the enormous support from the Jockey Club and the expertise and resources available at City University, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Life Sciences will see great success and contribute to the well-being of our community and the region as a whole.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Jockey Club One Health Tower naming ceremony at City University on November 21.

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Further developing cruise tourism

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

World Dream represents a major milestone in Hong Kong’s rise as a cruise ship hub. It will be the first mega-cruise ship to be christened here. It will also be the biggest cruise ship to call Hong Kong its year-round home. That, ladies and gentlemen, speaks of the importance that Genting Hong Kong attaches to the Hong Kong market and the ability of Hong Kong to appeal to regional and global cruise ship lovers.

     

Let me add here that, whenever World Dream is in port here, it will become part of our revamped “Symphony of Lights” show – making a major international showcase that much more attractive. The new light-and-sound show begins in December this year.

     

World Dream’s year-round presence here also speaks of the state-of-the-art facilities at this Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Cruise tourism in Hong Kong has been expanding rapidly in the four and a half years since the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened. The number of ship calls in Hong Kong this year will reach an all-time high of about 250, with passenger throughput hitting a record-breaking 850,000. That welcome news would not be possible without the support of Genting Hong Kong and other cruise lines, along with our travel trade partners and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

     

My Government is determined to build on that strong foundation and inject further impetus into the development of cruise tourism. In my first Policy Address delivered last month, I have clearly laid down the development strategies of the tourism industry in Hong Kong. The Tourism Commission has also produced a comprehensive Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Blueprint, and a number of its initiatives relate to cruise tourism, to enhancing the experience of cruise passengers in Hong Kong and to driving the development of this very important sector.

     

In addition, the Financial Secretary last month convened a high-level committee to co-ordinate the Government’s tourism efforts. And we are pleased to see a number of breakthroughs, from improvements to infrastructure and connectivity, to streamlining immigration and logistic arrangements for cruise tourism. I am confident that we will continue to provide the best environment for cruise lines to sustain a healthy business growth here.

 

And, down the sea road, as Mr Lim pointed out, the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development plan will offer more promise for our cruise industry. I am sure that I can count on the support from every one of you here in our efforts to grasp the opportunities in front of us.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the debut and christening of the cruise ship World Dream on November 17.

via Moroccan Trader Further developing cruise tourism

Welfare co-operation vital

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The Government is totally committed to building a caring society in Hong Kong. We attach great importance to helping the disadvantaged. For the current financial year, Government spending on welfare will amount to $73.3 billion, which is quite a lot of money, representing 19% of the Government’s recurrent expenditure. In other words, for every $100 we spend nowadays, $21.50 goes to education, $19 goes to welfare and $17 goes to medical and health. So we are talking about the number two spending item for the Government.

 

But the Government’s effort alone is not enough. We need community support like Operation Santa Claus. We need tripartite co-operation between the business community, the NGOs as well as the Government. We all work together for the common good.

 

If you look at the Policy Address for the current term, our theme resembles very much the work of Operation Santa Claus. Our theme is “We Connect for Hope & Happiness”. If you look at the Chinese version, it’s more elaborated. In Chinese, it means walking hand in hand, embrace hope and share happiness – exactly what you have been doing for the last 30 years, looking after the disadvantaged, particularly young children.

 

First of all, for (the) elderly, our senior citizens, we are determined to really enhance community and homecare support for senior citizens in need of help. Our target in the long term is to keep waiting time to zero. A very ambitious task, but we must work at it.

 

For low-income working families, just above the poverty line, we are determined to help them. In fact, we have been revamping the Low-income Working Family Allowance to really significantly improve it, to make it more accessible and friendly for applicants. To quote a very good example; for an (eligible) ordinary married worker in Hong Kong, not on social security, with two (eligible) children, each child will get $1,000 allowance per month and the working father and/or mother will get $1,200. In other words, a family of four will get $3,200 per month on an on-going basis, encouraging employment and at the same time supporting children and encouraging self-reliance as well.

 

For children, I will be chairing a new children’s commission to be set up by the middle of next year to co-ordinate Government efforts and efforts of all child-concern groups to improve and enhance the well-being of children in Hong Kong. So it will be a significant step forward in terms of protecting and enhancing children’s welfare. I will be working closely with the Child Development Fund in order to help shape character of children, particularly those in need.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the launch ceremony for Operation Santa Claus 2017 on November 13.

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