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Financial Secretary

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Striving to become stronger amid threats

After being suffered from the continuous violent acts and the threat of separatism last year, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has recently enacted the Hong Kong National Security Law (the Law), which then enabled Hong Kong to restore social stability swiftly. However, the US took this as an excuse to impose the so-called sanctions on eleven Mainland and Hong Kong's officials, and even disclose their personal information. As a country which has always proclaimed itself as a solid supporter of human right and liberal democracy, such kind of doxxing is a serious breach of privacy and an act of intimidation, which reveals its own arrogance and hegemonic mindset.

Furthermore, without substantial details and evidence, the US has recently issued a President's executive order to ban the operation of the Chinese-background TikTok in the US with the allegation that TikTok is a national security threat. The US also forced TikTok to accept an acquisition and demanded that a substantial portion of the proceeds going to the US Treasury. However, the fact is that the company's servers for their business are placed in the US and there is no evidence showing the transferring of any personal data of its US users outside the territory. This incident shows that even a company operates legally in the US, it could still become a target of "bullying" or even "robbery" just because that its success in the market has threatened the US's dominance in certain aspects. Recently, the US has launched the so-called ‘Clean Network' programme with an aim to shut out Chinese companies from the US internet. These moves have blatantly undermine the claimed institutional values of the US, such as free market, rule-based operation and fair competition, and will eventually damage market's confidence.

All these acts are displaying double standards of the US, and adding doubts as to whether some so-called universal values claimed to be upheld by the US are indeed hypocritical propaganda.

Learning from history, for a country to take a leading role in the international political and economic aspects, it needs to enhance its competitiveness relentlessly. Hegemony and intimidation are not key to success in the long-run. Only by treating others fairly and on a mutually beneficial basis, a strong country could genuinely earn the respect of others.

The legislation of the Hong Kong National Security Law aims to safeguard the Country's sovereignty and safety, which is our legitimate right. However, the US took this as an excuse to pursue a series of high-profile despicable acts against China. As many critics have pointed out, Hong Kong has already become the frontline battlefield of the China-US conflicts, which justifies the urgent need for a national security law in Hong Kong. In any case, safeguarding the national security is a fundamental issue with no room for compromise. We do not have to be afraid of the so-called sanctions. With the solid support of our Country, what we need to focus on is to equip and improve ourselves to become stronger and more competitive.

Facing the complicated external environment, and probably a critical juncture of the century, the future direction of economic development of the Country is to expedite the construction of a more comprehensive system of domestic demand, and develop more new points of growth through innovation. By doing so, a new development model of a domestic economic network as the primary role, while having the dual domestic and international economic networks complementing each other could be built for the Country. For Hong Kong, what that will bring to us is the vast consumption potential from a bigger mass of middle-class, as well as a greater demand for high quality services and supply chain management. As for the financial sector, more technology-related and light-asset companies will have the need for fundraising and other professional services. Under the unique arrangement of "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong could certainly maintain our institutional strengths and other advantages, and contribute in the development process of the Country while furthering our own development.

Nonetheless, the most imminent challenge facing Hong Kong right now is to effectively curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The strategy of "early identification, early isolation and early treatment” has proven to be effective in fighting against the epidemic. However, with infected persons showing no symptom staying in the community, we could hardly break the hidden chain of infection. As seen from the experience in the Mainland, by conducting universal testing to identify the infected persons to the largest extent, together with suitable treatment, it could help provide a safer environment to facilitate the resumption of social and economic activities.

Based on the result of the Government's targeted testing on selected groups, it is expected to have some one thousand infected persons with no symptoms in the community. If we do not adopt a more proactive approach in identifying and treating them, our work against the epidemic will become more difficult, and the society and the economy will be facing a long-term risk of disruption. With the support in manpower and resources from the Mainland, Hong Kong's capacity in virus-testing and medical treatment has been greatly enhanced, enabling us to introduce a more comprehensive community testing scheme. As infected persons with no symptom are also highly infectious to others, for your and your families' health, for the effect of our anti-epidemic efforts, and for the speedy recovery of our economy and daily lives, I appeal all of you to take part in this voluntary testing scheme.

August 9, 2020


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