Hong Kong celebrates its 20th anniversary as a Special Administrative Region
By Shirley Lam, Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union.
This is a special year for Hong Kong as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of its return to China. Since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on 1 July 1997, Hong Kong continues to thrive as it enjoys the benefits of “one country, two systems”.
We have benefited greatly from the vast opportunities arising from the blooming of China’s economy. At the same time, as an international city with free movement of capital, information and talents, the rule of law, a simple and low tax regime and the use of English as an official language along with Chinese, Hong Kong has helped China to expand its business worldwide. We take pride in being the “super-connector” between the Mainland of China and the rest of the world.
We are seizing the new economic opportunities offered by innovation and technology, into which our government has injected a massive EUR 2.14 billion in funding, and by financial technologies (fintech), which are transforming the way banks do business.
Hong Kong is also poised to play a key role in China’s visionary development strategy, the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The scheme seeks to deepen economic ties and infrastructure connectivity between more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, in the form of railways, highways, ports and more. The two corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative encompass two-thirds of our planet’s population and account for a third of global GDP. China is counting on Hong Kong – on our financial, trade and logistics strengths and professional services – to play an important role in this ambitious undertaking especially after becoming the first sub-sovereign member of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank. Hong Kong can certainly work with European enterprises, investors and professionals in exploring and seizing these opportunities.
To mark the 20th Anniversary of the HKSAR, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) is organising and supporting activities ranging from festivals like the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, which will screen nine Hong Kong films in April, to concerts like that of The Asian Youth Orchestra. The AYO’s 110 members are among the finest young musicians in Asia, and the grand finale of its summer tour will be at Bozar in Brussels on 5 September. Then there is the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in the Port of Antwerp, also in September. A special event in October combining Hong Kong gastronomy and martial arts will be another highlight of this 20th Anniversary year.
In August, HKETO, Brussels will bring 20 young people from Hong Kong to Belgium to participate in the 100-kilometre Oxfam Trailwalker event in the Hautes-Fagnes and other exchange activities. The Trailwalker challenge, in which teams of four people must complete a 100km trek in 30 hours on 26-27 August, originated in Hong Kong and exemplifies the Hong Kong can-do spirit. We are also supporting the Oxfam Peacewalker challenge on 29 April, which commemorates the victims of the First World War. Participants will walk 42km in less than 10 hours in the Westhoek area of Flanders and the cities of Ypres and Mesen.
When the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region celebrates its 20th Anniversary on 1 July, it will also get a new Chief Executive. Mrs Carrie Lam, who was elected on 26 March to succeed Mr CY Leung, has pledged to start a new chapter for Hong Kong by forming an inclusive administration that will work with the public to create a better society and bring the community together. She will increase land supply to build more homes, boost education spending and lower the profits tax rate for small and medium-size enterprises. Hong Kong looks to this next chapter in its history, and the next 20 years, with confidence.
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels