China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative was first mentioned by President Xi Jinping in late 2013. In just two years, the Chinese leadership launched substantial policies around this initiative, reflecting OBOR’s high priority in the government agenda. I believe it’s just a start.
As the initiative grows by leaps and bounds, its overall framework and roadmap should be optimized as it develops.
The OBOR covers countries with a combined population of nearly 4.4 billion. It’s a tough job to negotiate and balance the interests of different countries over detailed policies.
Hong Kong has plenty of talents in finance, language and law, among other professional services, so it can play an important role in those negotiations to protect national interest and the shared interests of participating countries.
Hong Kong is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) free trade pact, and its links with ASEAN economies can also help in tightening the ties between China and the ASEAN.
In its guidelines for OBOR, China mentioned five areas of cooperation, namely policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds.
Hong Kong should make full use of its advantages in those areas.
Regarding facilities connectivity, Hong Kong can be a platform for OBOR economies to raise funds for infrastructure investment.
For example, it can help in project financing, bridge financing, consulting services, debt issuance and project management.
Hong Kong firms should be encouraged to invest, along with the mainland and other participating countries, in infrastructure projects because in this way they can play their respective advantages.
As for unimpeded trade, Hong Kong has a natural geographical advantage. It can make use of its deep experience and highly advanced knowhow in port management and marine transportation to deepen cooperation with special zones on the mainland, such as Shenzhen’s Qianhai, Guangzhou’s Nansha, Hengqin in Zhuhai and Pingtan in Fujian province.
This will allow for the establishment of a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area.
In financial integration, Hong Kong can help in the issuance of yuan-denominated bonds, or help investors in assessing risks.
Meanwhile, the city should also seize the opportunities for global financial cooperation presented by the Asian Infrastructure Bank, the BRICS New Development Bank and the Silk Road Foundation to strengthen its position as an international financial center.
To build people-to-people bonds, Hong Kong can promote cultural communications among participating countries and play a bigger role in terms of nurturing talent, technology cooperation, environmental protection and tourism development, among other fields.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 14.
Translation by Myssie You
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