As Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative continues to gain momentum, Hong Kong wants to make sure the city will play an important role and benefit from it.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, One Belt, One Road refers to China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road policy which aims to promote connectivity and cooperation among countries in Asia and parts of Europe.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah told the Hong Kong Economic Journal in an interview that Hong Kong definitely will be participating in the ambitious and far-reaching development strategy.
To do that, Yau said the SAR government has decided to take a three-pronged approach, considering that One Belt, One Road is a national policy that involves extensive categories and many departments in the mainland.
The first step is for Hong Kong to sign an agreement with central authorities to clearly define the role that the city can play.
According to Yau, a proposed agreement that specifies how the city can make the most of its advantages in some industries, especially professional services, was submitted to the central government during Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s visit to Beijing last week.
The benefit of such an agreement is that it can make mutual relationships clear and highly transparent, Yau said.
After the agreement is signed, Hong Kong and the mainland will have to establish a counterparty mechanism to facilitate the implementation of relevant projects, he said.
The SAR government proposes that its Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the National Development and Reform Commission set up a joint conference that will hold regular meetings so that Hong Kong can take the initiative to interact with the mainland instead of passively waiting for One Belt, One Road projects to be dispatched.
Yau stressed that Hong Kong has to let central authorities know its unique strengths since it cannot expect to get any special favor from Beijing.
As for the last step, Hong Kong will have to make sure that all the deals it gets are achievable and that requires enhanced communication and coordination with local industries.
Yau said the SAR government is considering to expand the current Trade and Industry Advisory Board he leads by further diversifying its membership so as to make it the main discussion platform for Hong Kong’s participation in One Belt, One Road.
The government will be more aggressive than its predecessor to make sure that One Belt, One Road will redound to a better future for Hong Kong, he said.
The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau will keep the Belt and Road office established by the previous administration, work closely with the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, and exploit the network formed by Hong Kong’s 17 offices in the mainland and other countries to look for all possible business opportunities.
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