Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China Millennium Meeting today (Thursday):
Vice Minister Long, Mr Htun, Ms Leitner, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here to attend the opening of the China Millennium Meeting organised by the United Nations Development Programme. This meeting is most timely and its theme most appropriate.
In less than four days' time, China will resume sovereignty over Macau, bringing Macau back into the fold of our great Motherland, of which Hong Kong has again been an integral part through the successful implementation of the "One country, two systems" principle, since July 1, 1997.
And in about two weeks' time, we will enter a new century. With the dramatic strides that China has made since the start of her economic reforms twenty years ago and her integration into the global economy during the past twenty years, China is set to play an even more pivotal role on the world stage in the new millennium.
We in Hong Kong feel very much honoured that the UNDP has chosen Hong Kong as the venue for this meeting, and has brought together experts from the Mainland, Macau, Hong Kong and the UNDP to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing China in the new millennium.
The UNDP is the world's largest development assistance organisation. Through a network of over 130 country offices as well as programmes in more than 170 developing countries and territories, the UNDP plays a vital role in promoting efforts in these countries to eradicate poverty, to regenerate the environment, to empower women and to create sustainable livelihood.
1999 marks the 20th anniversary of UNDP's presence in China. In the past two decades, the UNDP's China office has done an excellent job in helping the Mainland develop her capacity to tailor-make and implement programmes to cater for the needs of the Chinese people. The achievements of the UNDP are there for all to see; and they are particularly striking when we take into account the wide range of development issues facing the Mainland and the diverse levels of economic and social development in different parts of the country.
Hong Kong is also privileged to have both contributed to and benefited from the UNDP. With the assistance and guidance of the UNDP, we have developed a Hong Kong-specific programme and undertaken a number of development projects, most of which take the form of short-term expert advisory services, fellowship training and study tours.
Through our continued participation in UNDP activities, we can share valuable experience with other economies in how to stand up to the new challenges facing us and how to take advantage of the opportunities which present themselves.
Two major challenges confront us today: globalisation of the world economy and the rapid economic changes within China, which are bound to accelerate following China's accession to the World Trade Organisation in the near future.
Thus this China Millennium Meeting will provide a valuable occasion on which participants can exchange and formulate views and ideas on how the government, business and the civil society can further collaborate with each other and build up synergies, in order to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
Finally, I would like to wish all participants a successful and rewarding meeting and a pleasant stay in Hong Kong for those who are visitors.
Thank you very much.
End/Thursday, December 16, 1999