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CE's speech in delivering "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" to LegCo (10)
VIII. Combat the Epidemic Together, Tell Good Stories of Hong Kong and Scale New Heights

Combat the Epidemic Together

137. The COVID-19 epidemic has raged for nearly three years. Its impact on Hong Kong as a highly open economy is particularly evident. The Government's anti-epidemic policies are clear and have been taken forward in an orderly manner, with the aim of creating the greatest room for people's livelihood and economic activities.

138. Upon assuming office, the current-term Government promptly formulated five anti-epidemic principles:

(i) not to "lie flat", but to contain the number of confirmed cases and prevent the healthcare system from overloading;

(ii) to reduce critical cases and deaths;

(iii) to protect high-risk groups, including the elderly, children and patients with chronic illnesses;

(iv) to classify people into different risk levels for proper control in a scientific and precise manner; and

(v) to strike a balance between epidemic risks and economic needs.

139. I have mentioned on many occasions that we should avoid "backtracking" along our path of combating the epidemic. Our guiding principle is to achieve the greatest impact with the lowest cost. Provided that the epidemic is under control, the Government will continue to move forward with adjustment and enhancement to anti-epidemic measures in the light of the actual situation and development. This is to ensure that things will be taken forward in an orderly and measured manner.

140. Having assumed office for just over three months, the current-term Government has rolled out a series of precise and risk-based anti-epidemic measures in phases, gradually relaxing our control measures. These include cancelling the route-specific flight suspension mechanism, introducing the Red and Amber Codes for risk-based classification and management, changing the 7-day hotel quarantine arrangement to "3+4" and later "0+3", and relaxing social distancing measures in phases. The "0+3" arrangement, implemented on 26 September, was a major change as it formally put an end to the inbound compulsory quarantine requirement which had been in place for more than two years. Where conditions permit, the Government will enhance various measures in a progressive way, including social distancing measures. We will also devise specific plans to ensure that major events and economic and large‑scale activities in Hong Kong can be held smoothly.

141. Resuming connections with the Mainland and the overseas is equally important for Hong Kong and must be pursued in tandem. We are making our best efforts to discuss with the Mainland to strive for resuming normal cross‑boundary travel in a gradual and orderly manner, without posing additional epidemic risks to the Mainland. Our first target is to implement "reverse quarantine" in Hong Kong, also known as "pre-departure quarantine". This arrangement will be designed to comply with the "7+3" standard of the Mainland, where Mainland‑bound travellers will be put under closed-loop management after undergoing quarantine in Hong Kong. It will avoid the possibility of spilling over the epidemic to the Mainland, and reduce the pressure on quarantine hotels and manpower in the Mainland, providing more certainty for travelling from Hong Kong to the Mainland. Subject to manageable risk level, we are discussing in parallel with the Mainland to increase the compassionate quotas for travelling to Shenzhen, in order to meet the travelling needs of people in the Mainland and Hong Kong.

142. How much longer this anti-epidemic journey will take hinges on a basket of factors. Acting hastily will cause troubles, bringing irreversible risks to society and leading us nowhere. We have to closely monitor the epidemic situation outside Hong Kong, possible risks arising from winter influenza, development of virus variants, the capacity of local healthcare system, etc. The public must follow and comply with the anti-epidemic measures, as any contravention could hamper our progress made so far and render our efforts futile. As long as we play our part and stand united, our anti-epidemic journey will go more smoothly, creating the greatest room for people's livelihood and economic activities.

Tell Good Stories of Hong Kong

143. As an externally-oriented economy, Hong Kong must look for opportunities beyond the city. We have to be adept at telling the world the good stories of Hong Kong, and let Hong Kong shine in the world. With an intricate and volatile international political environment, certain external forces have been deliberately smearing our country and distorting the situation in Hong Kong. We have to present the true picture of Hong Kong to the world and promote our strengths, achievements and opportunities, and that the city is a good place where people can make their dreams come true.

144. In fact, Hong Kong is a free, open and international metropolis connecting with the Mainland and the world. Hong Kong, an international financial, shipping and trade centre, is highly competitive. Hong Kong has numerous "the World's No.1" achievements: the world's freest economy, the easiest place to do business across the globe, the number-one city in air cargo throughput, the largest offshore RMB business centre, etc. It is also the only city in Asia with five universities in the world's top 100. All these clearly demonstrate that Hong Kong has many distinctive advantages that make our people proud.

145. Speaking of the most unique advantage, Hong Kong enjoys strong support of the Motherland while being closely connected to the world under the "One Country, Two Systems". We enjoy a low tax rate, a simple tax regime, a solid foundation of the rule of law and well-developed infrastructure. Hong Kong is well connected with the enormous markets including the Mainland and ASEAN. As a leading financial centre in the world, Hong Kong's stock market is highly active in trading. It is also the leading fund management hub in Asia with free flow of capital and high liquidity. Hong Kong exercises its judicial power independently and is the only common law jurisdiction of our nation.

146. Hong Kong has a vibrant society. Our people are well educated and our scientific research capabilities have received worldwide recognition time and again. Hong Kong has a productive workforce as well as the longest life expectancy in the world, thanks to our quality medical services. Our civil service is acclaimed for its integrity and efficiency. Hong Kong also enjoys a unique and inclusive cultural diversity, a splendid and diverse mix of eastern and western arts and cultures, and world-class arts, cultural and sports events. Hong Kong's country parks are scenic and rich in biodiversity, which liven up our leisure and recreation activities. With its low crime rate, Hong Kong is also among the world's safest cities.

147. Indeed, Hong Kong has many more good stories to tell, and the Government will take full advantage of community efforts to tell those stories. I and my Principal Officials will lead overseas delegations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in November and the "Think Business, Think Hong Kong" campaign in Thailand next year organised by the HKTDC. The Financial Secretary will lead a task force, together with a "Hong Kong Team" comprising business leaders, the HKTDC, the HKTB, etc., to visit traditional and emerging markets to rebuild the image and branding of Hong Kong through proactively establishing multilateral ties. The task force will also launch a new visitors' programme, inviting around 1 000 prominent political, business and media leaders from the Mainland and overseas to visit Hong Kong on sponsorship. Tailor-made arrangements will be made, so that these visitors can see for themselves the latest developments in Hong Kong, and bring home the good stories of Hong Kong. In addition, the task force will work on showcasing the strengths of Hong Kong in a more multi-faceted and comprehensive manner via extensive multimedia channels and networks.
148. Government departments and relevant organisations will promote Hong Kong's strengths through diversified activities. The Financial Services Development Council and Invest Hong Kong will launch a global marketing campaign, presenting Hong Kong's prospects and opportunities as a bridge connecting the Mainland and the rest of the world. Radio Television Hong Kong will enhance its cross-media multi-language broadcasting to keep expatriates in Hong Kong as well as people in the Mainland and overseas apprised of the latest developments and appeal of Hong Kong. Our Mainland Offices will encourage and support representatives from our professional fields and sectors to visit the Mainland. Moreover, Hong Kong professional bodies may apply for funding under the Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme to visit the Mainland and overseas countries to promote their professional services, broadening the international perspectives of our professionals, particularly the young generation, and showcasing Hong Kong as a vibrant and thriving city.

IX. Closing Remarks

149. The next five years are important for Hong Kong to break new grounds and achieve another leap forward. At a time when the world is undergoing unprecedented changes in a century, Hong Kong faces both opportunities and challenges, but there are more opportunities than challenges. I have full confidence in the future of Hong Kong. The key to success is to seize the opportunities of the times, give our best and enhance our competitiveness. Building on the governing beliefs outlined in my election manifesto, this Policy Address has set out more concrete goals and detailed measures. With the concerted efforts of the governing team and our civil servants at all levels, as well as the support from the community, we will be able to implement all these measures in the Policy Address that are designed for our people, and accomplish what we set out to achieve.

150. Currently, the biggest aspiration of Hong Kong citizens is to have more decent housing, improved care for the elderly, better prospects for the youth in their education and achievements, and more development opportunities in society. Guided by the important speech delivered by President Xi on 1 July as the governance blueprint for the current-term Government, it is our hope to better serve our people and better develop Hong Kong, so that everyone can share the fruits of our achievements. Over the next five years, I look forward to working with you all to build a more promising and united Hong Kong where people enjoy living and working. Together, let us start a new chapter for Hong Kong advancing from stability to prosperity!
Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 13:47
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