Speech by CE-elect at Bauhinia Culture International Forum (English only) (with photos/video)
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Commissioner Liu Guangyuan (Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Chairman Mao Chaofeng (Chairman of Bauhinia Culture Holdings Limited), ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. I'm delighted to be speaking to such a distinguished audience today.
Let me first express my sincere appreciation to the Bauhinia Culture Group for organising this very meaningful international symposium in celebrating Hong Kong for the 25th anniversary of both our return to the motherland and the implementation of "one country, two systems." The latter, of course, is the special and enlightened arrangement that has guided our progress since July 1, 1997.
The "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law that enshrines it have brought forward notable successes over this past quarter century. In its journey, like all other things, there have been also challenges. None more painful than the harm caused by the unprecedented riots and violence, together with foreign interference, in June 2019, threatening national security and traumatising Hong Kong for more than one year. That led to the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law in June 2020.
The Hong Kong National Security Law and the improved electoral system that followed have returned confidence to Hong Kong society as a whole. Stability has since returned and Hong Kong is now on the journey of proper governance to prosperity.
When I visited Beijing to receive the Central People's Government's appointment to be the sixth-term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I had the honour to meet with President Xi. He said to me, and I quote: "Despite challenges over the past 25 years, the practice of 'one country, two systems' in Hong Kong has been a resounding success."
Indeed, the "one country, two systems" principle is guaranteed by our Constitution and the Basic Law. The Basic Law guarantees Hong Kong people's freedoms and rights and Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.
Looking to the future, President Xi added that "Hong Kong has achieved a major transition from chaos to order and is now at a crucial stage - of advancing to prosperity."
Ladies and gentlemen, over the next few minutes allow me to focus on how we will get there, and how Hong Kong will, most assuredly, advance to prosperity.
In broad terms, one key factor is the strong and special status that is given to Hong Kong under "one country, two systems", together with the strong support of our nation.
The Basic Law and the legal system
Let me begin with the Constitution, the Basic Law, our legal system and the rule of law, the critical underpinnings of our "one country, two systems" foundation.
Hong Kong is the only common law jurisdiction in China. Our commitment to the rule of law, to judicial independence, is unassailable. It is the key to the confidence in Hong Kong, and our long-term prosperity and stability as an international financial and investment centre.
The World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators ranks Hong Kong second in Asia when it comes to the rule of law. Unfortunately, this compelling, reassuring reality is often lost in the self-interest political badmouthing in international politics and punditry. That is why the sixth-term Hong Kong SAR Government will place considerably more emphasis on promoting our legal system, and the judicial independence it guarantees, not just to the people of Hong Kong but also to the world as a whole.
Last year, Hong Kong was ranked the world's third-most preferred seat for arbitration by Queen Mary University of London's International Arbitration Survey. Last week, Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Feng, speaking at a symposium in Shenzhen, urged Hong Kong to use its substantial legal experience, and abundant talents, to help promote the rule of law, because of the escalation of rules-related disputes worldwide.
As Vice Minister Xie suggested, Hong Kong can provide expert legal guidance in shaping international rules, while safeguarding the legitimate security and development interests, and rights, of our nation.
National 14th Five-Year Plan and Greater Bay Area
We will seize every opportunity the National 14th Five-Year Plan has so generously given to Hong Kong. Not only in legal and dispute-resolution services, but in boosting our status as an international centre of finance, trade and transportation.
We will focus, as well, on the four emerging strengths the Five-Year Plan has called on us to develop. These are innovation and technology, aviation, and intellectual property protection, as well as enhancing our unique position as a centre for international cultural and arts exchange.
Then there is the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which will expand our domestic market from a population of about 7.5 million to some 90 million, while generating opportunities for nearly every sector in our economy. In integrating with the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong will be at the forefront of one of the world's most dynamic, most innovative cluster-city developments.
Hong Kong will also continue to strengthen its ties with the international world, enhancing its status as an international metropolis, as well as the gateway to the Mainland. That means wide-ranging, long-term prospects - economically, culturally and creatively - for the people of Hong Kong.
Economy and people's livelihood
As President Xi said on the occasion of the Hong Kong SAR's 20th anniversary, "It is important to put people first, help them overcome difficulties, especially address prominent economic and livelihood issues that people are concerned with. And truly increase their sense of contentment and happiness."
This paramount principle is the guidance for the sixth-term Government, which will put priority on deep-rooted issues such as housing, healthcare, youth development and more.
We will do so with dispatch, with determination and with readiness to make changes.
We will be judged - and I will be judged - not just on the amount of our efforts but more importantly, on our ability to make positive differences for the good of the people.
These are daunting challenges. But there are many, many strong, positive and favourable elements for the continuing success of Hong Kong. These include the unwavering support of our nation, the "one country, two systems" principle, the resilience of Hong Kong, its talents and committed workforce, the responsive social networks, the city's strong competitiveness built over the many years of development as an international business and financial centre, together with the strong governing team that I am building. These challenges are, to me, the driving force and motivation to make achievements, for the good of society and for the benefits of the community. I shall make these demands to my governing team. They are to be result-oriented, with strong team spirit of collaboration and unity. They are to be ready to rise up to challenges, focus on efficiency and effectiveness, cut the red tape and streamline procedures, and most importantly, to deliver results.
Today's event, I'm sure, will deliver results. The results of a very good and useful exchange among participants. I wish this symposium a great success.
Ends/Thursday, June 16, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:59
Issued at HKT 12:59
Audio / Video
CE-elect attends Bauhinia Culture International Forum