Speech by FS at Republic of South Africa: National Freedom Day Reception (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, at the Republic of South Africa: National Freedom Day Reception today (April 27):

Consul General Mogono (Consul General of South Africa in Hong Kong, Mr Mojalefa Mogono), Deputy Commissioner Pan (Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Mr Pan Yundong), Consuls-General, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 

     Good evening. It is a pleasure to join you tonight, in celebration of the Republic of South Africa’s National Freedom Day.  

     As we mark your nation's 29th Freedom Day, here in Hong Kong, I am reminded of President Nelson Mandela's speech on the first commemoration of this historic event. If I may quote, "Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future."

     This proud day is also a chance for Hong Kong to reiterate its commitment to building a rewarding future with South Africa.  

     South Africa, after all, is one of the most advanced economies in Africa.  

     As the world moves into the post-pandemic economy, it is time for Hong Kong and South Africa to revitalise our longstanding ties in business, trade and investment.  

     The prospects are as wide-ranging as they are far-reaching.  

     Indeed, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.  

     Over the years, the ties have soared. China today is by far South Africa's largest global trading partner. Both are members of BRICS; and South Africa is an important participant in the Belt and Road Initiative.  

     Hong Kong is pleased to play a pivotal role in building China-South African relations. Last year, some US$4.5 billion, or 7.8 per cent of the total merchandise trade between the Mainland and South Africa, was routed through Hong Kong.

     Thanks to the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong is "indispensable to the building of a great China". Those are President Xi Jinping's words, spoken in his address last month at the first session of the 14th National People's Congress in Beijing.  

     Through "one country, two systems", Hong Kong serves as the central business link between the Mainland and the rest of the world, creating opportunities for all.  

     We have, after all, the support of our nation in developing international and regional hub in eight discrete sectors, including, among others, financial services and innovation and technology (I&T).  

     Hong Kong is an international financial centre. Our premier fund raising platform, world-class financial infrastructure and regulatory regimes that align with the highest international standards make us an ideal location for raising capital for infrastructure development and green transition projects in Asia, in Africa and all over the world.  

     On I&T, cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) are working closely together with one another and making rapid progress.  Complementing each other’s strengths, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou Science and Technology Cluster ranks second in the world by the Global Innovation index.

     The GBA is on the way to become a world-class bay area that combines the strengths of the New York Bay Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

     A promising city. A prosperous region. Our arms are wide open to businesses and investors and people from around the world to work with us and grasp the enormous opportunities ahead.  

     To this end, the HKSAR Government has set up the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises - we call it OASES for short - for serving strategic companies wishing to establish their foothold in Hong Kong. For the right companies, the Office will offer very flexible packages featuring land, financial grant, tax and other incentives.

     For people, we have also rolled out very aggressive talent admission schemes and upgraded existing ones to welcome more talent to come to Hong Kong and explore the opportunities with us. Four your information, since the rolling out of the new and upgraded schemes, we have so far approved over 30 000 applications.

     There is much more that Hong Kong can offer South African business and investors. I think Hong Kong companies are equally keen on pursuing opportunities in South Africa. I'm sure the Consulate's trade and investment seminar, in August, will be well received by all concerned.  

     Business aside, culture is another area of considerable promise between us, especially given Hong Kong's rise as an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange. I am delighted to hear that the Consulate is also planning a heritage seminar and exhibition here in September. I look forward to more such exchanges in the future, which will strengthen our people-to-people bonds as well as complement our economic ties and our bilateral relationship. 

     Consul General, please accept my warmest congratulations to you as South Africa celebrates your National Freedom Day.  

     Ladies and gentlemen, please do join me again in a toast: to the people of the Republic of South Africa and to the 25 years of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.

     And Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika! (Lord Bless Africa)


Ends/Thursday, April 27, 2023
Issued at HKT 20:16