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Speech by CE at reception in celebration of 17th anniversary of establishment of HKSAR (with photos/video)

     Following is the translation of the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the reception in celebration of the 17th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (July 1):

Fellow Hong Kong people, distinguished guests, colleagues,

     Today, we celebrate together the 17th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

     As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong enjoys the advantages of both "One Country" and "Two Systems". Over the past 17 years, Hong Kong has achieved significant progress in economic and social development. Our gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at an average annual rate of 3.4% in real terms. The Government's fiscal reserves have increased by 65.2%, while our foreign currency reserves have increased by 235%. In terms of purchasing power parity, Hong Kong's GDP per capita ranks 7th in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

     Hong Kong's economic growth over the past 17 years has underpinned our social development. If there had been no rise in corporate, personal, and government incomes, people's livelihood could not have been improved. Total government expenditure in the current financial year is 111.5% more than that in 1997/98. The SAR Government will continue to promote Hong Kong's economic development vigorously with a view to improving the lives of our people.

     Our economic success has not come easily. All of us in Hong Kong should treasure what we have accomplished. At present, our economy enjoys moderate growth. Unemployment is low, and the wage levels of the low-income group have increased by a larger extent. Commodity prices are relatively stable and the upward trend of property prices and rentals has been curbed. There is also a small surplus in the government budget. We must work together to maintain this favourable situation. We should avoid doing anything that may undermine Hong Kong's stability and prosperity.

     Another major task of the current-term Government is to advance constitutional reform. It is the common aspiration of the Central Government, the SAR Government and the general public of Hong Kong to successfully implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive (CE) election in 2017. Hong Kong's constitutional development must comply with the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The Basic Law is the constitutional basis for Hong Kong. Before it was adopted and promulgated 24 years ago, extensive and in-depth consultation had been conducted in Hong Kong for as long as five years on the various issues involved, including Hong Kong's political structure and universal suffrage.  The political structure model and the relevant provisions, as well as the principles for our constitutional development, finally laid down in the Basic Law are in line with Hong Kong's legal status and the overall long-term interest of Hong Kong. These include: taking into consideration the interests of all social strata; being conducive to the development of Hong Kong's capitalist system; adhering to the principle of gradual and orderly progress; and, suiting the actual situation in Hong Kong.

     In recent discussions, members of the community have put forward different views and proposals on the actual implementation of universal suffrage for the CE election. This is both understandable and normal in a pluralistic society such as Hong Kong. With the greatest determination and sincerity, the SAR Government and I will do our utmost to forge a consensus in the community and work together towards the goal of implementing universal suffrage for the CE election on schedule and in accordance with the law.

     The third major task of the current-term Government is to promote constructive interaction and co-development between Hong Kong and the Mainland of China. The Mainland is the largest source of inward direct investment for Hong Kong, which is in turn the Mainland's largest source of foreign direct investment. Exchanges of people across the boundary are becoming more frequent, with 100 000 Mainland residents coming to Hong Kong and 180 000 Hong Kong residents going to the Mainland on average every day through the land boundary control points. Cross-boundary marriages are increasingly common, accounting for about 36% of all marriages registered in Hong Kong in 2012. In recent years, more and more Hong Kong people have settled in the Mainland after retirement, while more and more students have gone across the boundary to pursue further studies. The growing interaction between the two places has given rise to new dimension in our relationship. In the past two years, with the support and understanding of the Central Government and Mainland provinces and cities, the SAR Government tackled a number of issues, including multiple-entry permits to non-residents of Shenzhen, purchase of Hong Kong property by Mainlanders, pregnant Mainland mothers whose husbands are not Hong Kong residents giving birth in Hong Kong, as well as parallel trading. I believe that if we try to understand each other and view things from one another's perspective, we can properly deal with problems that arise in the development of Hong Kong and the Mainland, and give full play to the complementary and mutually beneficial nature of the relationship between the two places.

     Fellow Hong Kong people, distinguished guests, colleagues, continuing to fully implement the Basic Law and administer Hong Kong in strict accordance with it, is the key to Hong Kong's stability and prosperity in the long term. Only by maintaining Hong Kong's stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong's prosperity can we improve people's livelihood. I have full confidence that as long as all sectors and people from all walks of life in Hong Kong work together with one heart and one vision to capitalise on the valuable opportunities and unique advantages that we have, Hong Kong can make greater strides in our economy, our people's livelihood and our political system, and make an even greater contribution to the progress of our country.

Ends/Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Issued at HKT 09:13


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