Hong Kong remains a preferred business hotspot 20 years later

Stephen Ng
Displayed with permission from China Daily

Two decades into the reunification with the country, Hong Kong is still very much the destination of choice to do business and start a business, and the regional services hub to procure professional and financial services, despite the economic and political challenges we have faced during the interim.

Over the past 20 years we have witnessed many ups and downs and with each cycle we emerged stronger, leaner and more experienced. There is no denying that we perhaps have been over-obsessed with political issues in recent years. This has cost us valuable time in upgrading and sharpening our competitive edge, while our neighbours have progressed rapidly.

Despite lagging behind on a few areas such as innovation and technology, the economic and political challenges over the years have made us smarter and more sophisticated in doing business. I believe Hong Kong is going through another cycle, as the economy adapts to technological, economic and social changes. At times it feels excruciatingly challenging but we are not alone. Economies around the world all face similar challenges in one way or another. However, this downtime gives us a window to take stock of how we can hone our strengths and, more importantly, address our weaknesses.

Take Hong Kong’s investment property sector for example: Both landlords and tenants have become much more sophisticated and they have worked together to enhance the value of their properties. It applies across the retail, office as well as hotel sectors. Furthermore, landlords and tenants have applied their Hong Kong expertise to enter the Chinese mainland market and there have been many success stories.

We are also hearing many success stories about how young startups are embracing technology for disruptive innovation and to explore new business opportunities. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has been helping our members better understand, and be equipped to succeed in the digital era. Besides organising regular seminars, we work closely with various organisations in Hong Kong and around the world to give our members a first-hand look at what other businesses are doing. For example, our visit to Barcelona, the world’s leading smart city, showed our members the multi-dimensional advantages a smart city has. We are also actively looking into topics such as fintech, reg-tech (regulatory technology), internet of things and artificial intelligence, and how businesses, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, can use these tools to improve our lives, environment and competitiveness.

Looking ahead, we need to seize the opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative opens up. Closer to home, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area initiative will foster closer technological and economic cooperation between Hong Kong and neighbouring cities, and help enhance our competitiveness. Opportunities like these rarely come along, and we are in the perfect place to capture a slice of this huge potential.

To put it in perspective, if the Greater Bay Area were a country, it would already have the 10th largest GDP in the world. It is in the same league as India and Brazil among the BRICS countries and much larger than Russia and South Africa. Compared to other countries, it is also much more concentrated, and is right on our doorstep. The initiative presents a unique opportunity for Hong Kong, and if we seize this opportunity, we will secure a much brighter future for our future generations.

To maximise Hong Kong’s potential, we need to be united as a community and an economy. We need to take our can-do spirit further, and be a valuable partner in the far-sighted national initiatives of the Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area. We in the business community are ready to grasp these opportunities.

– Repubhub/China Daily

Hong Kong elects first female chief

Displayed with permission from China Daily

Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vows to unite city so it can advance in solidarity

HONG KONG – Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who will become the first woman to serve as chief executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, vowed after her election victory on Sunday to lead Hong Kong forward in solidarity.

After being approved by the central government, Lam, 59, will be the fifth-term chief executive since Hong Kong’s reunification with the nation.

“The work of uniting our society to move forward begins now,” she said, adding that during the election process, she heard the heartfelt expression of the people and learned and experienced many new things.

Lam said she will meet with people from different sectors to discuss issues like the development of Hong Kong, including applying new resources to education, tackling housing problems and introducing new financial and tax measures.

She also stressed that she will do her utmost to uphold “one country, two systems” and to guard Hong Kong’s core values.

Lam has proposed to increase recurring expenditures for education by HK$5 billion ($644 million). She said she will reach out to various stakeholders and legislators on how to apply new resources.

“I am confident that we can put aside any differences and achieve a win-win situation,” she said.

Lam proposed to apply financial and tax measures strategically through a two-tier tax rate system on profits and tax deductions to incentivise research and development.

She said she would invite employers and employees in all sectors as well as experts and academics to come up with ideas.

On the housing issue, she said, “I have pledged to help Hong Kong people attain home-ownership and to improve living conditions. To do this, we need more usable land.”

Lam also said large parts of her campaign platform were inspired by young people. “In this campaign, I have felt deeply our younger people’s strong desires and their passion for Hong Kong,” she said.

In the chief executive’s race, decided by a 1,194-member election committee, Lam garnered 777 votes to 365 for former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-Wah and 21 votes for retired judge Woo Kwok-Hing.

Lam used to be the chief secretary of administration. She now awaits appointment by the central government and will succeed incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on July 1.

Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor appears with her husband and son after she is elected on Sunday as the next chief executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.Edmond Tang / China Daily

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