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Financial Secretary


Celebrating the 26th Anniversary of Our Return to the Motherland

Yesterday was an important day for Hong Kong as we celebrated the 26th anniversary of our return to the Motherland as well as the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). It also marked the first anniversary of the current-term Government. After attending the flag-raising ceremony and the celebration reception, I visited FarmKet Carnival in Yuen Long to enjoy this special day with members of the public. An event in celebration of the 26th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR and in support of “Happy Hong Kong”, FarmKet Carnival attracted a large number of visitors and was filled with joy and happiness.

Attending the celebration reception of 26th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR
Attending the celebration reception of 26th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR

It has been more than a quarter of a century since Hong Kong returned to the Motherland. Over the past 9 000 days or so, we have undergone many ups and downs and overcome major challenges one after another. The Asian financial turmoil in 1998 and the global financial tsunami in 2008 have let us fully understand the significance of financial risk management, which concerns the stability of our society as well as the well-being of our people. Our fight against SARS in 2003, and the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic which just came to an end, have taught us that the whole society has to work together in anti-epidemic initiatives. Having learnt from the illegal Occupy Central movement in 2014 and the “black-clad violence” in 2019, we are fully aware of the importance of safeguarding national security, as security is the prerequisite to prosperity.

Challenges have never been easy, but with flexibility, diligence, perseverance and hard work, we have risen to the occasion and learnt from experience.

As our economy continues to grow and expand, our gross domestic product (GDP) has more than doubled since 1997 to exceed HK$2.8 trillion, representing an average annual growth of about 2.8%, higher than the average growth of 1.9% in other advanced economies over the same period. Our GDP per capita has now reached a high level of US$49,000.

Our expenditure on healthcare, social welfare and education continues to increase. The average life expectancies for males and females increased from 77.2 years and 83.2 years in 1997 to 81.3 years and 87.2 years in 2022 respectively, reflecting to a certain extent that our living standard continues to improve. Among our working population, those with post-secondary education account for about 47%, an increase of about 25 percentage point from the level of 1997. According to the Human Development Index compiled by the United Nations Development Programme which is based on indicators such as life expectancies, educational levels and national income per capita, Hong Kong ranked fourth among 191 countries and regions last year, just behind Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, demonstrating that Hong Kong has a leading edge in terms of overall development level and living quality.

When we are looking back, we want to get a better picture of the past and gain a foothold for planning the future, so that the road ahead is sound and steady with the development thereafter better and brighter.

There have been many changes in the situations and challenges that surround us in the past 26 years, but what remains unchanged is our country’s unwavering support for Hong Kong, ranging from the stable supply of fresh water, grocery items and fresh food to policies facilitating our economic development. What also remain unchanged are the flexibility and hard work of the Hong Kong people and the HKSAR Government’s commitment to further boosting the economy, improving people’s livelihood and serving the community. All these are the dynamics that enable Hong Kong to turn challenges into opportunities at different stages and capitalise on such new opportunities to scale new heights.

Our country is pursuing high-quality development in all areas and advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with Chinese-style modernisation on all fronts, with Hong Kong starting a new chapter for future success. With a vast market, stable and steady development, further reforms and opening-up as well as continued innovation in different areas, our country has provided the most conducive environment and boundless opportunities for development of Hong Kong. From our institutional advantages under “One Country, Two Systems” to our common law system and the seamless interface with international best standards and rules, we are able to gather capital, top-notch enterprises and talents from across the globe. All these are our unique advantages that support the development of Hong Kong as an international financial centre and an international innovation and technology hub.

We have to keep on seizing this historical development opportunity. In particular, we need to let our young people have a deeper understanding of the progress, philosophy, path and objectives of our country’s development, so that they can all tap on this golden era of opportunities and fully develop their potentials to contribute to the country.

The past 26 years have showcased Hong Kong’s remarkable story and our love for the Motherland. It was through concerted efforts, dedication to excellence as well as perseverance that our successful story was written. Looking forward, we will continue to work hand in hand and strive together for the betterment of Hong Kong and the prosperous development of our country, with a view to making brand-new and greater contributions to the historic feat of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

July 2, 2023

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