Speech by CE at Belt and Road Summit (English only) (with photos/video)
The Honourable Vice Premier Han Zheng, Director Luo Huining (Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)), Acting Commissioner Yang Yirui (Acting Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR), Mr Peter Lam (Chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning from Hong Kong, and good day to those of you joining from abroad. I warmly welcome you all to the seventh Belt and Road Summit.
We are deeply honoured by the support of our keynote speaker, the Honourable Vice Premier Han Zheng, who will grace this Summit with a video address shortly. On behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, I thank the Central People's Government for its strong support to us in hosting this annual occasion to tell the good story of the Belt and Road Initiative. Just as President Xi Jinping said on July 1 when gracing the Hong Kong SAR's 25th anniversary, Hong Kong's close connection with the world and strong support from the motherland are its distinctive advantages, and the Central Government fully supports Hong Kong in carrying out more extensive exchanges and close cooperation with the rest of the world.
We are also most privileged by the presence of our eminent speakers and participants. This two-day Summit has attracted more than six thousand participants, in person and online. You will hear from some 80 high-profile speakers from Hong Kong, the Mainland of China, throughout Asia and all over the world.
The Summit is also among the major events this year marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is a proud moment for Hong Kong, as we transition from turmoil to order. With stability regained, Hong Kong is ushering in a future filled with opportunities.
Hong Kong is determined to seize that future, despite the threats posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. The slowdown in global economic growth, supply chain disruptions, inflation and a more challenging operating environment are just some of the issues that face Hong Kong and the world at large.
I believe the way forward is there for us – for all of us – in the theme of this year's Summit: "Heralding a New Chapter : Collaborate and Innovate".
Hong Kong is a longstanding supporter and practitioner of free market and multilateralism. We believe in reducing trade barriers and ensuring the free flow of goods and services, people and capital. In deepening collaboration and pursuing innovation – at every level – markets open, business flows, economies and companies expand. The gains are mutually beneficial.
Economic liberalisation in Southeast Asia and the Mainland over the past few decades has enabled higher efficiency, lower costs for consumers and producers, job creation, higher purchasing power, market expansion and robust economic progress.
A growing consensus among international economists is that the centre of global economic gravity has shifted to Asia. Economic expansion in the region, prior to the epidemic, was being realised at breakneck speed. The Mainland of China and ASEAN averaged annual GDP growth of 6.3 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively, between 2011 and 2020. They are significantly higher than the global average of 2.4 per cent over the same period. Indeed, they have become the second- and fifth-largest economic entities in the world.
The global rise of protectionism has reminded us of how important regional co-operation is. We have to work together for the better future of the region. Hong Kong is therefore very pleased to see the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, come into force earlier this year. The landmark agreement underlines the open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment partnership that RCEP's member states are committed to realising. We believe that regional economic integration is an essential complement to multilateral trade.
Hong Kong is seeking early accession to RCEP. Our close and mutually rewarding relationships with RCEP economies run long and deep, and extend well beyond business and investment. We are closely linked, as well, by culture, education, tourism and even culinary delights. Joining RCEP is a natural step for Hong Kong. It'll enable us to deepen the collaboration and connections we enjoy with our close partners.
The Belt and Road is also built on collaboration, and covers an even wider spectrum of connectivity. It brings about infrastructure creation. It brings about trade and investment co-operation. It brings about profound benefits and unleashes wide-ranging development potential.
Essentially, the Belt and Road is helping to improve people's lives and create opportunities for common prosperity in countries all over the world.
Since the initiative was launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, it has inspired regional and international collaboration among over 180 countries and international organisations, covering policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people bonds.
In Hong Kong, various Belt and Road collaboration programmes have been established. And the Government has partnered with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, as well as business chambers and associations, to provide Belt and Road networking opportunities for companies and professionals.
A global city, an international financial and trade centre, and the business bridge between our country and the rest of the world, Hong Kong is the pivotal gateway for all of us. For Belt and Road companies and economies, and the projects they partner in, Hong Kong has it all: project financing and professional services support, innovation and technology, capacity building, cultural awareness, wide-ranging connections and much more.
The Belt and Road is inclusive. And so is Hong Kong. We invite the world to work with us together.
Despite the pandemic, our financial system remains resilient to market volatility. Consider this: at the end of last year, the capital adequacy ratio of our major banks exceeded 20 per cent, and the average liquidity coverage ratio exceeded 150 per cent. Both are well above international standards.
Our foreign reserve, at 447.3 billion US Dollars, is equivalent to about 130 per cent of our GDP. That ensures that our financial market is reinforced with the buffers and resilience necessary to counter global financial and political shocks.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Belt and Road has created to build connectivity, to bring business, and people, together. No one does that better than Hong Kong, thanks to our "one country, two systems" principle; thanks to our longstanding East-meets-West experience and the boundless opportunities afforded us in national development.
That's abundantly clear throughout the Summit's programme, with its spotlight on Hong Kong's role not only in the Belt and Road, but also in the Greater Bay Area. The Summit will also reflect the strengths and uniqueness of Hong Kong. In the difference we will make, the value we can bring, to both national developments, as well as to the future of RCEP.
For that, and much more, I'm grateful to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for co-organising this Summit with the Hong Kong SAR Government.
I wish you all a rewarding Belt and Road Summit, and the best of health and business in the year to come.
Ends/Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Issued at HKT 9:57
Issued at HKT 9:57