Following is the speech given by the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at the launch of Brand Hong Kong in London (June 25, London time):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be back in London and to welcome you all to this special event. I hope you like the images you have just seen. I think they convey a sense of the energy and spirit that makes Hong Kong such an interesting and unique place. The video is part and parcel of a new initiative that I want to talk about tonight. We call it Brand Hong Kong. And we will use this new global brand to help focus greater international attention on everything that Hong Kong offers as Asia's world city.
The most obvious and eye-catching aspect of our brand programme is the powerful and energetic Hong Kong dragon. The dragon design itself is a clever blend of East and West - just like Hong Kong. It incorporates both the Chinese characters for Hong Kong - heung gong - as well as the letters 'H' and 'K'. The stylistic rendering of the dragon, with its flowing lines, imparts a sense of movement, speed and change. It is a modern interpretation of an historical and cultural icon. It tells the world that while we have deep and strong roots with our Chinese heritage, we are also a unique community - daring and innovative with a can-do attitude that brings visionary ideas to life.
But it would be wrong to think that Brand Hong Kong is simply a dragon and a brandline and nothing else. It is much more than that. It is the embodiment of what we stand for, and what we aspire to be.
The launch of Brand Hong Kong has come after a considerable amount of research around the world, including here in the UK, in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific. We needed to find out what makes great cities like London and New York so special. And then we needed to see whether Hong Kong measured up.
What we discovered was that Hong Kong is already a world city in many areas. We are a world-class centre for banking and finance, communications, tourism and transport. We play a role as a manager and co-ordinator of global economic activity. We have a highly-productive, entrepreneurial workforce and some of the best infrastructure you'll find anywhere. We are committed to maintaining the rule of law and the full range of freedoms that you would all expect and demand, such as the freedom of expression and association, the free flow of information, openness, diversity and tolerance. We have strong links with our hinterland the Mainland of China, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. We also have the necessary concentration of educational and other institutions focused on knowledge-creation and enhancing the quality of life.
But there are also areas where we need to do more and do better. One is the environment, where we have a raft of measures in place to improve air and water quality and to deal with the problems of solid waste disposal and sewage treatment. The fact is, due to our effort in the last four years, improvements have been made and the results are visible. For example, the number of hours with the air pollution index exceeding 100 decreased by half in 2000. But clearly more needs to be done.
Another is in the areas of the arts, culture, entertainment and sport. There are a number of initiatives in the pipeline that will help us improve, including the development of a new district for the arts on a prime 100-acre site at West Kowloon facing the famous Hong Kong skyline. We are planning to do much more with our most stunning asset - beautiful Victoria Harbour - by opening up the waterfront and returning the harbour to the people of Hong Kong and visitors for their use and enjoyment. There are a number of exciting projects in the tourism sector, in particular Hong Kong Disneyland due to open in 2005, that will consolidate our position as Asia's most popular tourist destination. We are also reforming our education system to equip our young people with the skills needed to compete in the knowledge-based economy of the future - and this includes greater efforts to improve the standards of both English and Chinese.
Carving a niche for ourselves as Asia's world city is more than a public relations exercise, although we will be doing more to promote all of the advantages of doing business, investing and living in Hong Kong. The Brand Hong Kong programme has set the standard by which we must judge ourselves, and by which we will be judged. All that we hope to achieve as an economy and a community will be focused on making the grade as a world city. If we don't make the grade then we must do what we can to address those shortcomings.
We must also work hard to preserve and safeguard our identity under the 'One Country, Two Systems' concept and the guiding principles of the Basic Law. Hong Kong is in a unique position to play a special role in the continuing development and opening up of our country, as well as enhance our position as a hub for international trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Underpinning all of our efforts is an unwavering commitment to the foundations of our success: the rule of law, a level playing field, a clean and efficient administration and the free flow of information.
You should be pleased to note that our work is being recognised. Today Fitch, the international rating agency, has upgraded Hong Kong's long-term foreign currency rating to AA- from A+. We hope that other rating agencies will review our ratings positively.
Hong Kong is now approaching another turning point in its remarkable history. We face great challenges as well as enormous opportunities arising from China's impending accession to the World Trade Organisation. How we position ourselves within the next year or two will determine our future. How we communicate our strengths and advantages will also be an important factor.
Ladies and gentlemen, Brand Hong Kong is not a quick fix, nor a flash in the pan. It is a serious, concerted and long-term effort grounded in considerable research. I hope that in the years ahead the new Hong Kong Dragon will become an instantly recognisable symbol of Hong Kong in much the same way as Canada's maple leaf, or the red rose of England.
But more than that, I hope that when you see the dragon and think of Hong Kong you will understand what we stand for and represent : a progressive, free and stable society; a place of opportunity; a community and economy that aims for the highest quality in all it does.
Once again thank you all for your support. I am sure that we will all be able to work together in the months and years ahead to ensure that Hong Kong not only lives up to all of your expectations as a world city, but exceeds them as well.
Now Andrew and I would like to propose a toast. Please charge your glasses and join us:
To Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
End/Tuesday, June 26, 2001