Toronto ETO celebrates 20th anniversary of establishment of HKSAR (with photos)
In delivering the welcome remarks at the dinner, the Director of Toronto ETO, Miss Kathy Chan, said that the HKSAR 20th anniversary was a special occasion and a major milestone of Hong Kong's development. "Over the past 20 years, the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Hong Kong has achieved a cumulative growth of more than 80 per cent. The number of regional headquarters and offices set up by overseas and Mainland corporations in Hong Kong has increased by 50 per cent . The amount of foreign direct investment stock has expanded by 6.5 times," Miss Chan said.
"With a strong dedication to building a fair and just society for all, HKSAR Government had allocated substantial resources to care for the needy to ensure that they could also enjoy the fruits of economic advancement. At the same time, the Government had also invested heavily in education to nurture talents so as to maintain the competiveness of Hong Kong." Miss Chan noted that over the past five years alone, recurrent expenditures on social welfare and education have increased by about 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
The theme of the HKSAR 20th anniversary celebrations is "Together‧Progress‧Opportunity". "The past 20 years have not always been a smooth sail for Hong Kong. We have faced many challenges, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the global financial crisis in 2008. We could not have overcome the uphill battles without Hong Kong people staying together," Miss Chan said.
"More importantly, we would not have been able to prevail at difficult times without the staunch support of the Central Government , " Miss Chan added. She cited the measures rolled out at those crucial moments by the Central Government including the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in 2003 and the usage of Hong Kong as the launch pad of Mainland China's financial market liberalisation measures since 2008 under the "one country, two systems" Arrangement. Today, Hong Kong has already developed into the world's largest offshore Renminbi hub.
Despite the remarkable economic and social achievements in the past 20 years, Miss Chan said to sustain progress, it was important for Hong Kong to press ahead with big projects, such as infrastructure, education and healthcare development.
On infrastructure, Miss Chan said that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was targeted for completion by end of this year to provide a direct land link between Hong Kong and the west coast of the Pearl River Delta. Hong Kong also aimed to commission service of the Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in the third quarter of next year. At the same time, Hong Kong had embarked on construction works of the third runway of the Hong Kong International Airport in order to strengthen its position as a regional aviation hub.
"In terms of improving the well being of the community, the HKSAR Government had earmarked a sum of HK$200 billion for the 10-year hospital development plan. The Government would also devote extra resources to better education for the next generation and vigorously attract talents from all over the world, including Canada, to come to develop careers in Hong Kong," Miss Chan added.
Miss Chan remarked that in future, Hong Kong would continue to seize every opportunity to grow with our sound fundamentals, such as the rule of law, clean and efficient government, low taxes, business friendly practices, a level playing field, world-class infrastructure, and large investments in innovation and technology, etc. She was confident that Hong Kong would be able to make another 20 years of remarkable progress and continue to shine on the international stage as Asia's world city.
The Gala was also graced by the attendance of the Chief Justice, Mr Geoffery Ma Tao-li. In delivering the keynote speech at the Gala, Mr Ma reiterated the importance of the rule of law, "It is one of the features often used by the Government and the business community to promote Hong Kong. But it does much more than that. The rule of law is relevant not only to interests such as the business community or to promoters of investment in Hong Kong, but to everyone in Hong Kong. It means at its heart that everyone in the community, equally and without exception, has fundamental rights and liberties that are and ought to be protected in a real way. "
Before the Gala came to a close, the guests were treated with an exclusive cultural performance staged by Hong Kong and Canadian performers. Young talented artists of the Young Academy Cantonese Opera Troupe of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts put on an unforgettable Cantonese opera performance of the famous excerpt "Eight Divinities Crossing the Sea" together with the starlets of Starlight Chinese Opera Performing Arts Centre in Toronto. Cantonese opera performance was picked because it is a comprehensive and sophisticated art form which was inscribed in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. Hong Kong has been an important place for the succession and development of Cantonese Opera, and is keen on promoting it and sharing it with wider communities including friends in Canada.
Earlier in the morning, Miss Chan also delivered a welcome speech at the 2017 National Conference entitled "Hong Kong and Canada – The Next 20 Years" organised by Hong Kong-Canada Business Association. Miss Chan highlighted the latest developments of Hong Kong-Canada trade relations, and the "super-connector" role of Hong Kong in assisting Canadian companies in tapping into the markets of Mainland China and the rest of Asia.
This 3-day National Conference would look into Hong Kong-Canada trade relations, economic developments of the two places and how Canadian companies can take advantage of Hong Kong to enter into China and the rest of Asia. It had attracted about 200 business leaders and government representatives from Canada and Hong Kong.
Ends/Saturday, June 3, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:14
Issued at HKT 18:14