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Financial Secretary


Prevent external intervention to protect Hong Kong's prosperity

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently issued a fact sheet that sets out a host of acts of the US in interfering in Hong Kong affairs and supporting anti-China, destabilising forces since the 2019 social incident. The fact sheet systematically sets out over 100 items in different categories of interference of the US in Hong Kong affairs through acts such as enacting Hong Kong-related Acts, imposing sanctions, making unfounded charges against HKSAR affairs, shielding and supporting those who are opposed to China and colluding with some countries and teaming up with allies to exert pressure on China. Through these acts, US attempted to use Hong Kong as a pawn to hinder China’s development by creating and amplifying the chaos in Hong Kong society and undermining Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

Last week I attended a Xinhai Revolution 110th anniversary event and delivered a remark.

As we live in Hong Kong, we have witnessed the situation when Hong Kong fell into the turmoil of violent acts in 2019. Those who opposed to the violent acts often got attacked, seriously threatening and harming the freedom of speech and personal safety, and undermining Hong Kong's public safety. Yet the US, who had always been bragging about human right and freedom, was in support of these anti-freedom, anti-human right acts, and even shielded those who are opposed to China and attempt to destabilise Hong Kong, and offered platforms for them to advocate "Hong Kong independence" and spread political disinformation. These hypocritical, double standard, hegemonic and bullying acts had deeply hurt Hong Kong society.

In the light of the interference and damage brought by external forces, the Central Government has decisively and timely enacted and implemented the Hong Kong National Security Law, which has restored Hong Kong's safety and stability, safeguarded Hong Kong citizens' legitimate rights, and plugged the national security loopholes in Hong Kong. The enhancement of the electoral system implemented the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle on the institutional level and helped Hong Kong develop into the new phase of governance and prosperity.

However, while the Country enacted the Hong Kong National Security Law to safeguard the sovereignty, national security and development interests, the US reacted with smearing and vilifying campaign and adopted unreasonable responses. These included announcing the revocation of the special status and preferential economic treatment on trade for Hong Kong, unilaterally suspending or terminating bilateral agreements with Hong Kong, forbidding imported goods produced in Hong Kong marked "Hong Kong" as their origin. This July, the US Department of State, Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Treasury jointly issued a so-called "Hong Kong Business Advisory" with an attempt to cast doubt over Hong Kong's business environment and development prospect, and imposed unreasonable and so-called sanctions on the officials of the Central Government and HKSAR Government.

The reality is since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, Hong Kong has stepped out from chaos and restored governance. With social safety and stability restored, people's daily lives and travel are no longer under threat of violence, enterprises and shops also no need to be afraid of violent attacks. The Law has also helped to restore the confidence of foreign and local enterprises, which had once been worrying about Hong Kong's prospect due to the widespread of violent acts. The enhancement of electoral system has been leading Hong Kong towards governance and prosperity and rebuilding hopes for Hong Kong's future.

If we look at the situation objectively, we can see that Hong Kong's business environment is still excellent and vibrant, with unlimited opportunities ahead. Taking the financial market as an example. The gradual expansion of the connect schemes between the two markets has excited the financial services sector and other related sectors. From Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect to Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the annual trade value has increased from less than RMB 200 billion in 2014 to over RMB 15,000 billion last year. Similarly, after the open up of the Northbound Trading under Bond Connect 4 years ago to allow foreign enterprises directly participate in the interbank bond market in the Mainland, the Southbound Trading under Bond Connect was launched last week, enabling a two-way flow of capital under this channel. The Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was also launched recently, which is an initiative that had been long awaited by the asset management industry. Over the past decade or so, the widening, deepening and continuing development of the connection mechanism manifested our Country's determination in continuous reform and opening-up and innovation under the prerequisite of well management of risk.

Apart from the financial services sector, the co-operation in industry development between the two places has also been strengthening. Taking innovation and technology for instance. To give greater policy support to Hong Kong's development, the Central Government has clearly stated to support Hong Kong to develop as an international innovation and technology hub in the Outline of the 14th Five-year Plan. It also listed the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Co-operation Zone in the Loop area as one of the four major cooperation platform in the Greater Bay Area, which is the only major cooperation platform with the theme of technology and innovation. By facilitating convenient cross-boundary travel between the two places, this platform will be very attractive to both foreign and domestic research organisations, tech enterprises and talents.

The Plan for Comprehensive Deepening Reform and Opening Up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone was also launched recently. One of the Plan's major objectives is to speed up the institutional reform and innovation for technology development, and promote the cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in technology R&D, particularly in areas that Hong Kong has advantages, such as AI, healthcare and Fintech. The Central and municipal governments had earlier opened up their technology funding scheme for Hong Kong, so that universities and R&D institutions in Hong Kong could directly apply for Mainland's research funding and participate in the related projects. Moreover, more than 20 national level research platforms have been set up in Hong Kong. In short, as for innovation and technology, the Central Government has adopted institutional and policy innovation to promote a more convenient cross-boundary flow of related production factors, such as talent, goods, capital and information, with a view to supporting the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong.

From the success in the past, to the development at present and future opportunities, we have been relying on our Country's support. Being an inalienable part of the Country, Hong Kong has the obligation and duty to safeguard national security, territorial integrity and development interests. We also require a stable and orderly social environment for carrying out measures for social and economic development and improvement to livelihoods. In this massive change of a century, any development and tension in the international geopolitical arena will inevitably complicate the development of Hong Kong. Nonetheless, the US and other countries should duly respect China's sovereignty, abide by the basic principle of international relations and not to meddle with Hong Kong's affairs. At the same time, Hong Kong will continue to be a free, fair and open market which welcomes enterprises and investors from around the world to come and explore development opportunities and share the development interests. Taking the financial sector as an example, the profits gained by US enterprises and investors from their operations in Hong Kong are indeed much more than that by those from the Mainland and other places in the world.

Our Country has been determined on the path of reform and opening up and committed to the institutional strengths of "One Country, Two Systems". China not only participates, but also contributes to the global economic development. In this course, our Country has been emphasising on promoting the co-development of the world as a whole, upholding the principle of communication, sharing and cooperation to achieve a win-win situation. Indeed, only by viewing the world as a community for human development could we maximise the utility for all and join hands to tackle the common challenges faced by humankind.

September 26, 2021

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