The recent summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has once again highlighted Singapore’s unique status as a neutral country in the global community and a hub for hosting important international conferences.
Over the years, Singapore has been the venue for numerous headline-grabbing and high-profile international meetings, such as the cross-strait dialogue between Beijing and Taipei in 1993 and 2005 as well as the annual Asia Security Summit, also known as the “Shangri-La Dialogue”.
In contrast, due to the current state of affairs in international politics and Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong, it is basically impossible for our city to catch up with Singapore in the competition to become “Asia’s Switzerland”.
Yet more than 10 years ago, Professor Wang Zhan, who served in the Development Research Center of the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, already pointed out that Hong Kong should not focus only on facilitating its economic, social and cultural “mainlandization”.
Instead, he urged Hong Kong to enhance its role in the international community and strive to become “Asia’s Switzerland”.
HK should harness potential strive to become ‘Asia’s Switzerland’
Wang said the Asia-Pacific region needs a relatively neutral city which is above international politics, and which can fulfill the same role that Switzerland plays in Europe.
Hong Kong, Wang said, is the only city across China that has the potential for fulfilling this role, thanks to our common law system that has fully integrated into the rest of the world and our free economy.
On the other hand, apart from seeking international trade cooperation, Wang also suggested that the Hong Kong government work aggressively to invite multilateral and regional organizations to set up either their regional headquarters or secretariats in Hong Kong in order to boost the city’s international status.
Article 151 of the Basic Law stipulates that our city is entitled to the rights of maintaining and developing relations, and concluding and implementing agreements with foreign states and regions, and relevant international organizations, under the name of “Hong Kong, China”.
In other words, under the “one country, two systems” principle, our city has substantial autonomy when it comes to taking part in global affairs.
I strongly believe we should not overlook our city’s potential and space for becoming a true “Asia’s world city”, and the government should make good use of our unique status and explore a new direction of development for Hong Kong.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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