Date
12 December 2017
Health secretary Ko Wing-man says the professionalism of medical teams and the willingness of residents to pull together helped the city overcome SARS. Photo: Reuters
Health secretary Ko Wing-man says the professionalism of medical teams and the willingness of residents to pull together helped the city overcome SARS. Photo: Reuters

HK stands on its own economic, SARS-fighting feet

The mainland’s contribution to Hong Kong is only partial and the city is not overly reliant on the rest of the country for its fortunes, according to two Hong Kong government chiefs.

The comments come just days after the central government released a white paper on its role in Hong Kong, saying Beijing helped the city cope with the spread of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, as well as boost Hong Kong’s economy in the outbreak’s aftermath by implementing the individual visit scheme.

Financial Secretary John Tsang said on his blog on Sunday that Hong Kong is not — as some critics claim — over-reliant on the individual visit scheme for its economic growth.

“The individual visit scheme is important to our travel and retail industry, with these visitors contributing HK$80 billion (US$10.3 billion) every year and accounting for 3.9 percent of the city’s economy, from hotel and catering, to transport and retail … [This cannot] be regarded as over-reliance,” Tsang said.

He said these industries provided about 220,000 jobs, or 6 percent of the city’s total, but to suggest this amounted to overdependence is to ignore Hong Kong’s last half-century of development, he said.

“The two economies have never relied on each other. They have synergies that make up for the other’s weakness,” Tsang said.

A day earlier, Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said the central government offered help to Hong Kong in the form of masks and Chinese medicine specialists in 2003 but the assistance did not aid the city in overcoming the outbreak, according to Headline News.

Ko said SARS was contained thanks to the city’s highly professional medical teams and the ability of its residents to pull together in hard times.

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