• Financial, tech sectors 'poised to lead the pack'

    The financial industry and technology innovation will take the lead in leveraging the opportunities created for Hong Kong by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, reckons Zhang Yuge, director of the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies at Shenzhen-based think tank China Development Institute. The financial sector remains Hong Kong’s core competitiveness and will be the first to be focused on, he told China Daily in an interview ahead of the China Daily Roundtable, themed “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area: Prospects for Hong Kong”, which was held as part of the 11th Asian Financial Forum in the SAR on Tuesday. Asked how he thought such new opportunities could be seized upon, Zhang noted there’re still certain financial regulatory curbs on the mainland, and Hong Kong could seek to have some of them removed in the bay area. This would offer fresh opportunities for traditional financial institutions in the SAR, such as insurance and banking service providers, as all their products are still very competitive and irreplaceable in the area. However, he cited the challenge brought about by internet-based financial tools that have become increasingly popular in Guangdong province, and this is one aspect Hong Kong’s financial institutions should work on. Technology innovation, he said, is another key industry that’s most promising, and Hong Kong’s big advantage is its research and development capability. Hong Kong has attracted many of the world’s high-end R&D (research and development) resources, not mentioning its own world-class universities. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched its first overseas Innovation Node in Hong Kong, while Karolinska Institute — a medical university from Sweden with a 200-year history — set up its first overseas branch at Hong Kong Science Park. Zhang said they’ve chosen Hong Kong because of the city’s comprehensive institutional and legal environment, high level of internationalization and solid protection of intellectual property. But, they’re also eyeing the mainland market as the bay area’s development could integrate Hong Kong’s R&D ability with Guangdong’s market and industrial support. He stressed that the Lok Ma Chau Loop is key to such fusion. “The loop could become the starting point for Hong Kong and Shenzhen to jointly build an innovation corridor along the Shenzhen River.” This can link the development of the northeastern part of Hong Kong with Shenzhen’s Futian and Nanshan districts, which house a cluster of high-tech startups and companies, he said. Under an agreement unveiled last year, Hong Kong and Shenzhen will jointly develop an 87-hectare innovation and technology park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop. The first parcel of land is expected to be ready for construction by 2021. Referring to a comprehensive national science center being planned in the development blueprint of the bay area, Zhang suggested that it should be set up it in the technology park, bridging high-tech resources on both sides. So far, the central government has approved three of such centers nationwide — in Beijing, Shanghai and Hefei, capital city of Anhui province — with investment in each project worth tens of billions of yuan.
  • SMEs can look to innovative financing models for support

    Banks in Hong Kong will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through innovative financing models — accounts receivable financing and supply-chain financing — which may break new ground for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, according to a DBS banker. Hong Kong is favored by diversified corporates in the bay area for its convenience in asset fi nancing. Large and mid-cap corporates also prefer to set up trading centers in the city as the stepping stone to international development, says Ginger Cheng, who heads DBS’ institutional banking group for large and mid-cap corporates. However, for most SMEs, asset fi nancing seems a large problem, but is in demand. The lack of background information and poor credit rating makes it hard for them to win the trust from banks, she said. She proposed that accounts receivable financing and supply chain financing models be used to solve the problem. DBS will approach suppliers of major clients and target them as potential SME clients. SME clients can use their outstanding invoices or money owed by large corporates as collateral to get accounts. After that, the bank will keep supporting clients of SMEs in other financing deals. “These financing models combine the business for large corporates and that for SMEs, and help build a database of all related trustworthy SMEs,” said Cheng. “At the same time, these corporates shall be located close to each other for geographical convenience. If they are all in the bay area, it will become a good model and lead the trend.” However, all these fi nancial service models and products need e-platforms to support them, especially in the bay area, a place in a strong fi nancial technology atmosphere. “In terms of financing services, now the policy in Hong Kong is not very encouraging for innovation,” Cheng said. She thought the SAR has to catch up a little bit in the fintech field. On the other hand, she expected Hong Kong to take up this opportunity because the city has the advantage in policy flexibility. As policies on the mainland and in Hong Kong are a little different, Cheng mentioned three important aspects for the bay area — the fl ow of capital, flow of talents and the flow of goods. “I believe the policy for capital will be relaxed in the bay area, but it will take time. Also, it will be easier for talents from different places to work in each other’s city. In terms of goods, having a number of harbors and airports represents the strength of the bay area,” she said. She expects “all flowers to bloom together” in the bay area as every city plays its own role well.
  • Bay Area — the key to region’s growth, prosperity

    The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area is already one of the most significant epicenters of economic output in the world, with enormous manufacturing capacity, rapidly growing financial centers and a huge talent pool. Leveraging the different strengths of the cluster of 11 cities in the bay area is key to achieving the region’s overall prosperity, panelists told a China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable on “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area: Prospects for Hong Kong”, which was held as part of the 11th Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The bay area covers more than 56,000 square kilometers — larger than both the Greater Tokyo Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. It has a population of 67 million people spread across nine cities and two special administrative regions. With 1 percent of China’s land area, it recorded a GDP of US$1.3 trillion last year — 13 percent of the country’s total. “The bay area is a national level strategy but different from other strategies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Zhang Yuge, director at the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies of Shenzhen-based think tank China Development Institute. “It still has room for growth in terms of GDP per capita, tertiary industry ratio, the number of top global enterprises, as well as the cultivation of innovation in comparison with other developed bay areas worldwide.” “The biggest, most important and most urgent problem to solve is the free flow of key elements in the bay area,” he said. Solving these issues will be key to Hong Kong reaping the most benefits from the area’s growth. And, the key elements at play — the ones that need to move most freely — are talent and capital. Attracting more capital to the area is an important challenge that must be addressed quickly, said Zhang. “SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in China have a lot of challenges when it comes to borrowing money from external sources,” said Susie Cheung, founder member and co-convenor of the Asia-Pacific Structured Finance Association. “Securitization is not the only means, but it’s an effective means to bring in capital.” “For the enterprises in the bay area, the infrastructure projects need to attract revenue from institutional investors. We need to build up a pipeline of well-prepared bankable projects,” she said. In this push to attract more capital and talent, Hong Kong could play a critical role in being the undisputed financial leader in the region. “Hong Kong is a world-class financial center. Among the 11 cities involved in this initiative, Hong Kong stands out in terms of its capabilities in the financing arena, in equity financing and debt financing,” said Jing Ulrich, managing director and vice-chairman of Asia Pacific at JPMorgan Chase. “Hong Kong can really become a leading financier for southern Chinese companies.” Ulrich noted that more than half of the companies listed on the Hong Kong stock market at present are of mainland background. The mainland’s exposure to debt financing has also been increasing, accounting for over 30 percent of the total assets of Hong Kong-based banks. A super-connected city On top of being a leader in finance, Hong Kong is super-connected, has advanced and reliable technology with good ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure, and also is home to many world-class accounting and legal professionals. “Hong Kong can become an important knowledge hub, not just a financing center in the bay area,” said Ulrich. Besides Hong Kong, Shenzhen’s rapid development has impressed the world. The city’s GDP has surpassed that of Hong Kong and Guangzhou. “There’s some healthy competition as well among the bay area cities,” Ulrich added. “Hong Kong needs to work harder to avoid being marginalized. Ginger Cheng, managing director and head of large and mid-cap corporates, institutional banking group, at DBS Bank (China) Ltd, told the forum: “This is an area where we’ve already seen rapid development in the past 20 years leveraging China’s open-door policy. This is the most market-driven area in all of China.” “It’s evidenced by how the privately-owned enterprises in the region developed in the past year and have become global players,” she said. Cheng thinks that a market-oriented culture is an asset for the bay area, and Hong Kong could tap into that. “Hong Kong is already a leader in providing products and services to large companies via an equity capital market and offshore bond offering,” she added. This year alone, the total bond issuance of mainland corporates reached a historical high of US$168 billion — almost doubled that of US$88 billion in 2016. “Hong Kong probably needs to think of more innovative financing products and solutions for SMEs in China, as well as startups,” said Cheng. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing — the city’s stock market operator — has already made some progress by moving toward allowing biotech and healthcare companies without profit track records to be listed in the local stock market. “Hong Kong took up half of the imports of the bay area in the past three years, and the bay area took up about 60 to 70 percent of the total imports of China. This is a huge asset,” said HNA Innovation Finance Group’s Chief Innovation Officer, Ding Lei. “The ratios for export are relatively lower but increasing.” “With such a huge imports and exports size, there’s still a lot of space for development based on commodities, warehousing and logistics that are related to the real economy,” said Ding. A challenge, however, will be fostering innovation, particularly in Hong Kong. “I see a lot of new talents and capital flowing into Shenzhen or Zhuhai very quickly. It’s easy to find human resources in these cities, but the policy is a bit tighter in Hong Kong for the financial industry,” said Ding. “Although the Hong Kong government is trying to push innovation in the city, there’s not much support.” Strengths and weaknesses Hong Kong does have a lot of strength that places it in a good position to attract talents and innovation. But, it also has weaknesses. “Hong Kong’s No 1 weakness is its high cost,” said Ulrich. “Doing business in Hong Kong is very expensive. To attract the necessary talents into Hong Kong, the government can do more by offering attractive prices for entrepreneurs and startups.” Ulrich further pointed out that improving education in Hong Kong is another way to enlarge the local talent pool. “There needs to be a more effective coordination mechanism for the 11 cities,” she said. “We have three different currencies, three different customs, different immigration policies and different divisions of government. The central government can help coordinate the efforts in the bay area to make the movement of professionals much more expedient.” “The integration of employment can be achieved by improving the commuter system of the metropolitan area and the custom clearance policy,” said Zhang. Ding also said mainland conglomerate HNA will expand its operations in the bay area as it offers great opportunities for bulk commodities trading, warehousing and logistics. The financial arm of HNA, which has diversified interests in aviation, tourism and real estate, was launched in Hong Kong in March this year, principally engaged in commodity trade, financial investment and consumer finance which, Ding believes, has huge potential and can play a key part in promoting internationalization of the yuan. In less than one year since its launch, HNA Innovation Finance Group has sealed two deals. In March, it entered into an agreement to acquire a 51-per cent equity interest in Swiss commodities trader Glencore’s oil products storage and logistics business for US$775 million. It also agreed to acquire Singaporean logistics firm CWT in a US$1-billion takeover late last year. The group is still looking for other merger-and-acquisition opportunities in areas linked to its core business, Ding said. Such acquisition plans are in line with the nation’s strategy, he said, and the group wants to use its strengths to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, the bay area development and renminbi internationalization.
  • China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable: Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area: Prospects for Hong Kong

    16 Jan 2018, Hong Kong: Co-organized by Asian Financial Forum and China Daily, a co-branded session on “Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area: Prospects for Hong Kong” held from 09:45-10:45 on Jan 16, 2018. This marks the 7th consecutive year that China Daily has been positioned as Media Partner for this most influential industry event. China Daily is delighted to have five distinguished speakers: Ms. Ginger CHENG, Managing Director, Head, Large and Mid-cap Corporates, Institutional Banking Group, DBS Bank (China) Limited; Ms. Susie CHEUNG, Founder Member and Co-Convenor, Asia-Pacific Structured Finance Association; Mr. DING Lei, Chief Innovation Officer, HNA Innovation Finance Group; Ms. Jing ULRICH, Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Asia Pacific, JP Morgan Chase & Co.; and Mr. ZHANG Yuge, Director, Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies, China Development Institute. Ms. Ginger CHENG said that Hong Kong needs to think about how we can catch the flow of capital, the flow of talents and the flow goods. Then use the Great Bay Area initiative as a stepping-stone to further develop Hong Kong. In terms of financing services, now the policy is not very encouraging for innovations. That is what Hong Kong needs to catch up a little bit. Ms. Susie CHEUNG said that small and medium-sized enterprises on Chinese mainland have faced quite a lot of challenges when comes to borrowing money, meanwhile, large infrastructure projects are also encountered with difficulties of fund raising. Many of them are tapping into the capital market through securitization, Hong Kong, as an international financial hub with its professionals, should provide help and support for these SMEs and infrastructure projects to raise fund, particularly for those in the Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macao Greater Bay Area and those that related to the “Belt and Road” initiative. Mr. DING Lei said that if we look at the import and export for the past three years, Hong Kong takes half of the import in Bay Area, and the bay area import accounts for 60 to 70 percent of total imports in China. Given the sheer size of exports and imports, there are much room we can tapped into based on commodity trading, warehousing and logistics, which are most related to the real economy. Ms. Jing ULRICH said that as mainland is challenging Unite States in many areas now in terms of technology innovation, cloud computing and AI. Greater bay area can plays to its strengthen by becoming a key technology hub in this new initiative called digital belt and road. Mr. ZHANG Yuge said that the Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macao Greater Bay Area is central government’s policy arrangement to allow Hong Kong and Macao better exploring the market in Guangdong province. Chinese mainland markets are still partially limited from Hong Kong services industry, and the Bay Area is the special policy arrangement that lift these limitations. With the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge due to start carrying traffic in early 2018, the Pearl River Delta region will move towards a balanced and integrated development, elevating the Greater Bay Area economy to a new level, and with the development of the Greater Bay Area increasingly becoming the focus of attention. The report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) emphasized the need to support the integration of Hong Kong and Macao into the country’s overall development, and has given greater confidence to the development of Hong Kong and Macao. As the Greater Bay Area evolves and powers the country’s economy through a new platform for financial cooperation, Hong Kong is working to position as a “Finance-Plus-Innovation” hub. The Greater Bay Area has given enormous opportunities for Hong Kong, which is poised to benefit from the bright future arising from the bay area’s development. The seminar explored how Hong Kong’s financial sector can leverage on the opportunities that the Greater Bay Area offers to achieve greater regional integration and faster growth. Industry gurus shared their thoughts and first-hand experience on the hot topic with more than 200 delegates. About China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable The China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable is a by-invitation network of movers and shakers in Asia providing platforms for focused dialogue, issue investigation, and possible collective action on strategic issues relating to economic, business and social development in Asia. Our aim is to enhance communication and increase mutual understanding between China, Asian and Western countries. Roundtable events are held in major cities across Asia. Media Contact: Ms. Melody Hong Tel: (852) 3465 5427 Email:
  • 「粵港澳大灣區」專題論壇:共話香港發展機遇

    2018年1月16日,香港:中國日報今日在香港舉行題為「粵港澳大灣區:香港的發展機遇」的亞洲領袖圓桌論壇專題研討會,探討香港金融業如何把握「粵港澳大灣區」帶來的發展機遇,實現區域一體化及加快經濟增長。本次研討會是中國日報第七次與亞洲金融論壇合作,吸引逾200名政、商、學界領軍人物參加。 星展銀行(中國)有限公司企業及機構銀行部董事總經理兼中國區大型及中型企業主管鄭思禎、亞太結構融資公會聯席召集人及創會成員張秀芬、海航創新金融集團創新總裁丁磊、摩根大通董事總經理兼亞太地區副主席李晶、中國(深圳)綜合開發研究院港澳經濟社會研究中心主任張玉閣受邀擔任本次研討會演講嘉賓。 鄭思禎表示,香港需要思考如何通過資本流通、人才流通和貨物流通,在「粵港澳大灣區」戰略中得到進一步發展。她認為,香港應該在金融服務創新領域迎頭趕上。 張秀芬表示,中國的中小企業面臨著融資困難的情況,不少企業已通過證券化途徑從資本市場融資。而香港作為國際金融中心,擁有大量專業人才,理應為這些企業和相關項目提供融資上服務,尤其是針對「粵港澳大灣區」以及「一帶一路」建設的相關項目。 丁磊表示,在過去的三年裡,香港占有「大灣區」一半的進口量,而「大灣區」的出口量在全國的占比為60%至70%。如此大體量的進出口貿易,給香港的大宗商品貿易、物流倉儲等都帶來很多商機。 李晶表示,目前中國內地科技創新、雲計算、人工智能等方面都可與美國比肩,「大灣區」應該充分利用這些優勢打造「科技灣區」,這也與「數字一帶一路」理念相契合。 張玉閣認為,将「粵港澳大灣區」與紐約、舊金山、倫敦的灣區相比較,「粵港澳大灣區」在人口、本地生產總值以及其占全國的比重上都是頗具規模,「粵港澳大灣區」絕對稱得上是世界級灣區。他表示,「粵港澳大灣區」已經上升到國家層面,由中央政府統籌協調,區內各城市共同推動區域發展,這些優勢與要素為「大灣區」的長遠規劃和發展都起到重要的作用。 當前,「粵港澳大灣區」的發展愈發成為各界關注的焦點。中國共產黨十九大報告強調,要支持港澳融入國家發展大局,這為港澳發展指明了方向。隨著港珠澳大橋通車在即,珠三角東西區域將走向平衡、融合發展,「大灣區」經濟將邁向新臺階。 中國日報社擁有報紙、網站、移動用戶端、臉譜、推特、微博、微信、電子報等十餘種媒介平臺,全媒體用戶總數累計約7200萬;期均發行量超過90萬份,其中海外60萬份;網站日均訪問量(PV)超過5200萬,全球移動用戶端用戶達700萬;在海外,通過每月發行500餘萬份海外供版的《中國觀察報》(China Watch),直達美、歐、亞主流讀者群。 「中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇」旨在搭建一個由亞洲國家和地區政、商、學界領袖和社會精英參與的高端對話交流平臺,圍繞亞洲地區經濟、商業、貿易和社會發展等具有戰略影響的重要議題展開討論並分享見解,以增進中國與世界的交流和理解。(完) 媒體垂詢: 洪夢求 小姐 電話:(852) 3465 5427 電郵
  • Belt and Road to a prosperous 2018

    The latest China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable event — the Belt and Road Networking Reception — united a diverse group of attendees, perhaps reflective of the namesake initiative’s broad ripple effect. “As we all know too well, this is a time of huge uncertainties...Should one opt for openness or isolation, cooperation or confrontation?” said Zhou Li, editorial board member of the China Daily Group and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific. China believes in creating a shared future for mankind and President Xi Jinping’s 2013 Belt and Road Initiative is a huge step in that direction, he said. Consul general at the consulate general of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Abdul Qadir Memon, highlighted the connection aspect of the initiative. “The Belt and Road Initiative is more than just about building infrastructure, but also realizing President Xi’s vision of economic cooperation for all participating countries to realize their full potential,” Memon said. “It’s a catalyst for bringing about more people and people interaction.” The event, held in the Oasis room of the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, saw consul generals in Hong Kong, CEOs and around 200 C-level senior executives from Fortune Global 500 and China 500 companies, think tanks, academics and media practitioners from public and private sectors across Asia come together under the umbrella of the ambitious Chinese initiative. Initiative impact As revealed by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the opening of the Symposium on International Developments and China’s Diplomacy 2017 earlier this month, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 80 countries and organizations, conducted institutionalized cooperation on industrial capacity with more than 30 nations, and built 75 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in 24 countries under the initiative’s framework. Wang also said Chinese businesses have invested over $50 billion and created nearly 200,000 local jobs in countries along the Belt and Road route. It’s one thing reading about the initiative’s impressive facts and ever growing figures, it’s another hearing about how it has changed the region. Chief Secretary for Administration of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, spoke of how another major initiative — the Greater Bay Area initiative — feeds into the Belt and Road. He highlighted how related infrastructure, like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Boundary Crossing Point, will open up opportunities by facilitating flow between the SAR and the mainland. “Hong Kong should seize the opportunities provided by the Belt and Road through the Greater Bay Area,” Cheung said. Tengku Dato’ Sirajuzzaman bin Tengku Mohamed Ariffin, consul general at the Consulate General of Malaysia in the Hong Kong SAR, told China Daily the initiative has been instrumental in getting ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) infrastructure projects off the ground and running. “The initiative has blown some extra wind in the sails for projects like the high speed rail from Singapore to Kunming, particularly in the areas of funding and expertise” he said. He added that Malaysia could and wants to play a role in connecting 15 Islamic countries along the Belt and Road through Islamic finance and halal food. Even far flung allies chimed in with their say. “New Zealand was the first Western country to sign a Belt and Road agreement,” said David Whitwam, chairman of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He believes that New Zealand, although far away from the immediate geographic circle, will a play a role in the Belt and Road, particularly with regard to the food supply chain in the countries involved in the project. Nicholas de Loisy, president of Supply Chain Management Outsource, says the Belt and Road has been particularly helpful in opening up big project opportunities for corporations. His Hong Kong-based logistics company counts two big projects related to the initiative under its own belt. Media magic Media magic The role of media outlets like China Daily Asia Weekly, which celebrated its seventh anniversary at the event, was also spoken highly of in terms of promoting the initiative. “The media has been very important in spotlighting our efforts in the race to build infrastructure,” said Sirajuzzaman. “Media coverage highlights important considerations for these projects,” he added. One such example would be the recent China Daily Red Letter Project, which was a live stream on Facebook that brought viewers into road congestion at its worst in seven Asian metropolises. “In an increasingly-digitalized media age, we brought the issue of traffic congestion into the consideration of over 10,000 viewers through that experimental live stream project,” said Zhou. The four-and-a-half-hour long broadcast also attracted input from viewers across the region, who were probably also stuck in traffic as they tuned in. “What China Daily hopes is to provide a platform for such dialogue, especially as the Belt and Road grows,” Zhou added. Speech from Zhou Li, publisher of China Daily Asia Pacific Honorable Chief Secretary for Administration Mr Matthew Cheung, honorable consuls-general, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Good evening! Thank you all for joining us today. The coming of the New Year brings a time for renewal of old friendships and forging new ones. It’s also a time to embrace the spirit of universal goodwill. As we all know too well, this is a time of huge uncertainties. In politics, economics, at the corporate level, in matters of forging business ties — as indeed in our relationships with each other — we are often faced with the big question mark. Should one opt for openness or isolation, cooperation or confrontation? The choices we make now will determine the lives we and the younger generations are going to lead in the future. China’s stance is clear in this respect. It was evident at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October. China believes it is essential to advance peace, development and cooperation between countries, foster a new inclusive form of international relations and build a community with the goal of creating a shared future for mankind. The Belt and Road Initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a huge step forward in that direction. President Xi conceived of an economic model that supports much of the world’s shared desire for accelerated development. This might sound a bit idealistic but I do believe it’s possible to achieve by pooling together our resources and fostering a culture of pursuing shared benefits through collaboration. And there are already instances of the initiative translating into action with real benefits delivered. Naturally, Hong Kong, with all its talent, expertise, locational advantages and supernetwork across the world, is already a vital link in this international community. We expect to hear more on this from our esteemed Chief Secretary for Administration a moment later. China Daily also has a role in this ambitious enterprise to bring the world closer. Our job is to help add clarity to the understanding of what might look like bumps along the road. We look to find common ground and bring these to the attention of our readers. Our publication, China Daily Asia Weekly, now in its seventh year, is already reaching beyond the borders, having become the most widely distributed regional publication in Asia. Meanwhile, all of us at China Daily Asia Pacific are gearing up to take on the challenges of an increasingly digitalized media age. Last week, in cooperation with our Asia News Network partners, we got right out into the traffic in seven of Asia’s most congested cities, during the morning rush hour. The live-streaming, hosted from our Hong Kong studio, and featuring expert analysis, drew tens of thousands of viewers over four hours. Efforts such as these are directed at finding solutions to make our lives a little easier. And one of the ways of doing that is to try and build understanding and trust through dialogue. As China reaches out to the rest of the world, we are happy to provide a platform to foster such dialogues. Today we’re not just offering our hands to you but in fact we’re ready to welcome you with open arms. This is the spirit with which we greet you today. You have honored us greatly by your presence here. Let’s get to know each other. Enjoy yourselves. Happy New Year! Well-developed infrastructure is a critical factor that enables Hong Kong to capture the opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative in the Greater Bay Area development and sustain our economic growth and strength. It will also enhance Hong Kong’s connectivity with the mainland by boosting exchanges between Hong Kong and major mainland cities that will create complementary advantages. Hong Kong is often described as having the best of both worlds under the “one country, two systems” principle. Under “one country”, we receive preferential treatment and investment facilitation. Under “two systems”, we are able to maintain our way of life and the rule of law here. That’s why Hong Kong has all along played an important role in linking the mainland with other parts of the world, as well as serving as the gateway for overseas businesses entering the mainland and Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative will create an environment for the region to realize its true economic and trade potential and usher in a new era of progress and development. By developing the land and maritime linkages, the Belt and Road Initiative will be a catalyst to help bring more people-to-people interaction which, we believe, is essential for global peace and stability. Pakistan and China have a very special relationship, with both counties working together for regional economic development, peace and stability. The China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Free Trade Agreement was followed by the Hong Kong-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which was signed during the recent ASEAN Summit in Manila. This is testimony to the fruitful bilateral relations between Hong Kong and Malaysia.
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