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Hong Kong once again ranked as the world's freest economy
     The Fraser Institute continued to rank Hong Kong as the world's freest economy in the Economic Freedom of the World 2022 Annual Report. Hong Kong has gained the top rank since the inception of the report. Among the five areas of assessment, Hong Kong continued to rank top in "Freedom to Trade Internationally" and "Regulation". Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government today welcomed (September 8) the recognition. 

     "We have been striving to improve the business environment and enhance market efficiency and support, thereby allowing the economy to display flexibility and resilience and leverage the advantages of the free market.  Our commitment to maintaining an efficient, free, open and fair business environment is once again affirmed," a Government spokesman said.

     In relation to Fraser Institute's unfair comments regarding Hong Kong’s rule of law, the implementation of the National Security Law and the so-called interference by the Mainland, the spokesman said, "Since the return to the motherland, the HKSAR has been implementing the 'one country, two systems' principle in strict accordance with the Basic Law, and various rights and freedoms are fully protected. The success of 'one country, two systems' has won recognition throughout the world. In his important speech on July 1, President Xi Jinping stressed that 'one country, two systems' must be adhered to in the long run, and Hong Kong's distinctive status and advantages must be maintained. This serves the fundamental interests of the country, meets the interests of the residents of Hong Kong, and is conducive to maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability."

     "The fundamental purpose of 'one country, two systems' is to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests and to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao. The black-clad violence that emerged in the second half of 2019 flagrantly challenged the 'one country, two systems' principle, and seriously damaged Hong Kong's economy and harmed our business and investment environment. Those living in Hong Kong and running their businesses in Hong Kong all had first-hand experience and strong feelings. With the implementation of the National Security Law, stability and security have been swiftly and effectively restored in the society of Hong Kong, and the prestigious business environment has returned. The Hong Kong community and residents generally felt relieved and were pleased with the restoration of peace. The National Security Law safeguards national security and prevents, suppresses and imposes punishment for offences endangering national security, thereby maintaining prosperity and stability of the HKSAR and protecting the lawful rights and interests of HKSAR residents. Law enforcement actions must be taken to prevent and suppress acts and activities that endanger national security. We should emphasise that any law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, for the acts of the persons or entities concerned, and that Article 4 of the National Security Law already clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR."

     As a matter of fact, after more than two years of implementation of the National Security Law, data and facts have indicated that investors' confidence has been reinforced following the stabilisation of the society. For example, the value of Hong Kong’s asset and wealth management business reached HK$35.5 trillion at the end of 2021, with an increase of more than 20 per cent when compared to that at the end of 2019. The amount of deposits in the banking system stood at more than HK$15 trillion in July 2022, 8.5 per cent higher than that prior to the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020. In the latest Global Financial Centres Index published in March this year, the status of Hong Kong as a leading global financial centre has been reaffirmed, ranking first in Asia and third in the world.

     "We reiterate that the rule of law is a fundamental core value of the HKSAR and the bedrock for its success, which is widely accepted and respected by the community. Under 'one country, two systems', HKSAR has maintained and kept developing its original legal system including the common law. In his address on July 1, President Xi recognised the unique strength of Hong Kong's common law system, and indicated that the autonomy bestowed by the law is fully respected and resolutely safeguarded by the Central Government. The HKSAR Government remains fully committed to upholding Hong Kong’s fine tradition of the rule of law and judicial independence."
     The spokesman supplemented, "Hong Kong's distinctive status and edges are clear: including the rule of law and judicial independence, free flow of capital, a free trade and investment regime, a simple and low tax system, a favourable business environment and an efficient and clean government. The HKSAR Government will continue to consolidate these strengths and provide a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and to strengthen their competiveness, thereby enabling our economy to prosper."
     "Looking forward, Hong Kong, under 'one country, two systems', will leverage on the motherland's strong support and connection with the world market, and continue to play our unique roles as a gateway, a springboard and an intermediary. We will create strong impetus for growth, and actively integrate into the overall development of our country, dovetail with national strategies such as the National 14th Five-Year Plan, the Greater Bay Area development and high-quality Belt and Road co-operation, and seize the opportunities ahead."
     "We have every confidence in Hong Kong's long-term economic development."
Ends/Thursday, September 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 22:18
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