Co-operation between Hong Kong and Fujian will be elevated to a new stage
18 November 2018
Both located in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, Hong Kong and Fujian Province have in place a solid foundation for mutual exchange and co-operation with their long-developed strong ties in cultural, economic and social aspects.
From the economic perspective, Hong Kong, being a key conduit of foreign investment and a major export market of Fujian, provides an ideal platform for Fujian enterprises to attract foreign investment and go global. Over the years, more than 70 Fujian enterprises have obtained funding by listing in the stock market of Hong Kong, while Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs have participated actively in the development of Fujian.
As to social aspects, we can easily find that some of our friends’ families are from Fujian. Out of our population of seven million or so, about 1.2 million people have their place of origin in Fujian. In other words, one out of every six Hongkongers is from Fujian. Many of them are leaders of the business and professional sectors who have been a major driving force behind the development of Hong Kong.
On Government policy, we have implemented the Fujian Scheme for the convenience of senior Hong Kong citizens who have chosen to spend their old age in Fujian. Starting from 1 April this year, eligible elderly people living in Fujian are granted the Old Age Allowance (at a current rate of $1,345 per month) without the need to come back to Hong Kong every year.
Moreover, it was announced in the 2018 Policy Address that the scope of the Old Age Living Allowance, with the existing monthly rates standing at $2,600 for normal allowance and $3,485 for higher allowance, would also be extended to cover Fujian.
Meanwhile, we are well aware of the importance of developing the transport network between Hong Kong and Fujian. The commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), which has become the main artery linking Hong Kong and Fujian, will boost the exchange of people, goods, capital and information between the two regions. A ride from West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong to Fuzhou (Fujian’s provincial capital) now takes about five hours only. If the destination is Xiamen, the time needed is even less, which is about four hours. Passengers now have yet another good option to travel between Hong Kong and Fujian.
In this connection, I will lead a delegation of the HKSAR Government to Fujian from 27 to 29 November. Together with the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs and several Under Secretaries, I will travel to Fuzhou on the XRL to attend the third Hong Kong-Fujian Co-operation Conference, which will be co-chaired by the Vice-Governor of Fujian Province and me.
Over the years, the Government has been actively promoting exchange and co-operation between Fujian and Hong Kong. Since the establishment of the Hong Kong-Fujian Co-operation Conference, two meetings have been held by the two sides, one in 2015 and the other in 2016. At the first meeting, an agreement on strengthening economic and trade co-operation as well as financial co-operation was signed. At the second meeting, both sides agreed, in addition to promoting further co-operation in the above two areas, to enhance co-operation in other areas such as innovation and technology, youth exchanges, and cultural and creative industries.
The current-term Government has been actively promoting concrete co-operation with Mainland provincial and municipal governments through various regional platforms with a view to enhancing the level of co-operation. I eagerly look forward to the visit to Fujian with a view to promoting Fujian-Hong Kong co-operation hand in hand with different sectors of Fujian Province.
Hong Kong and Fujian each have their own strengths and characteristics. Both located in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, the two places play a key role in the construction of the Belt and Road. As an international centre of finance, trade, shipping and professional services, Hong Kong is both a preferred platform and a linchpin linking to the Belt and Road regions. Hong Kong has comparative advantages in professional services, including financing, risk assessment, legal, accounting, planning, design, works, project management and dispute resolution services, while Fujian is a core area of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Hence the HKSAR Government has already set up different platforms to enhance interaction and partnership among enterprises, so that Hong Kong and Fujian can make good use of their complementary strengths to promote the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and to create a win-win situation for all.
The celebration of the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up of our nation marks the beginning of a new era, as well as a new starting point. Looking ahead, Hong Kong and Fujian Province are well set to better leverage each other’s complementary strengths, and to deepen mutual co-operation and elevate it to a new level. With joint efforts, the two regions will help advance the Belt and Road Initiative and create boundless development opportunities.
At the same time, the HKSAR Government has enhanced the network and functions of its Mainland Offices comprehensively. We will continue to strengthen Government-to-Government (G2G) liaison between the HKSAR and other parts of the Mainland through this network.
A full liaison network has been established by the HKSAR Government in the Mainland in recent years. At present, there are a total of five Mainland Offices, viz. the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Shanghai in the east, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong in the south, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Chengdu in the west, the Beijing Office in the north and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Wuhan in the central region. To further optimise the network, the Government has set up under each Mainland Office at least two Liaison Units, which are tasked with serving major provinces/municipalities. There are currently 11 Liaison Units in Fujian, Shenzhen, Liaoning, Shandong, Hunan, Henan, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Guangxi, Chongqing and Shaanxi.
In the years to come, the Mainland Offices and their Liaison Units will continue to work on enhancing co-operation between Hong Kong and other regions in the Mainland as well as promoting exchange between Hong Kong and various Mainland provinces and municipalities in the areas of trade, finance, innovation and technology, culture and nurturing of professional talent, with a view to allowing more room for further development. Besides, all these Mainland Offices and Liaison Units will continue to maintain close liaison with the relevant Mainland authorities so as to follow up closely on the implementation of various measures to facilitate Hong Kong people’s study, work and living in the Mainland. They will also step up efforts in disseminating the latest information on the same to Hong Kong people working and living in the Mainland.