Our Country: strongest, most reliable and solid backer
Epidemic: public collaboration vital for reopening boundary crossing
4 October 2020
This year marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The celebratory joy was doubled as the National Day coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival. I sincerely wish our country formidable strengths and vibrancy and Hong Kong sustained stability and prosperity.
By virtue of the enduring and indomitable spirit of the Chinese people, as well as the country's imposing breadth of foresight, China has developed in leaps and bounds over the past 71 years, especially during its new era of reform and opening up. It has captivated the world with remarkable achievements, as manifested in its status as the world's second largest economy as well as the largest industrial manufacturer and goods trader. With soaring comprehensive national strength, China now plays a pivotal role in the international community. As a Chinese descendant and being part of the Chinese people, I am deeply proud and honoured.
The strongest, most reliable and solid backer
Since Hong Kong's return to the Motherland, the implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle has fully demonstrated that it is the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. Having played an active role in the past 42 years of our country's reform and opening up, Hong Kong has leveraged the advantages of both "One Country" and "Two Systems" to consolidate and enhance our traditional competitive industries and promote the emerging ones in vigorous ways. While Hong Kong has benefitted from the opportunities arising from the rapid development of China, the city has also contributed to the reform and opening up of the country by providing, among others, capital, skills, talent and experience in international market.
Whenever Hong Kong encounters difficulties, the country is our strongest, most reliable and solid backer. Our successful fights against the Asian financial turmoil, the SARS outbreak and the international financial crisis, to name but a few, have spoken for themselves. In the midst of storms and turbulence, China is in every sense the "pillar of the ocean" to Hong Kong.
The disturbances and violence arising from the opposition to the proposed legislative amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance last year posed the greatest challenge ever to Hong Kong since its reunification with the Motherland. At this tough time when Hong Kong could not resolve the crisis on its own, the Central Authorities made an essential and timely decision by enacting the National Security Law for Hong Kong at the state level to safeguard national security and help Hong Kong restore stability as soon as possible. It is only with the country's staunch support that we are able to safeguard "One Country, Two Systems", protect the interests of Hong Kong people and regain stability.
Hong Kong's economy and the livelihood of citizens have suffered a devastating blow under the epidemic. Invariably caring for Hong Kong, the Central Government has proactively responded to the requests made by the HKSAR Government. With its support, our virus testing capacity was substantially ramped up within a short period of time, the Universal Community Testing Programme was successfully launched, and the construction of the community treatment facility and the temporary hospital was greatly facilitated. All these efforts have considerably raised the HKSAR's capability to cope with the epidemic in the future.
Intricately bound with each other, Hong Kong and the Motherland have a shared future. While Hong Kong's advancement hinges heavily on our country, we have also played a part in the national development from the founding of New China to its reform and opening up to its recovery of Hong Kong. In different roles and ways, we have integrated ourselves into the progression pathway of our country.
China not only gives Hong Kong fundamental strength, but also provides ample opportunities. With the nation's unsurpassed support to our economic development, we should capitalise on the new opportunities arising from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development and the Belt and Road projects to explore new room for as well as add fresh impetus to Hong Kong's future development, and to further promote the renewed implementation of "One Country, Two Systems". In the face of a complex and volatile international environment, Hong Kong, backed strongly by the Central Authorities, will have a bright future with broader pathways and a wider scope for development.
Top-tier digital competitiveness
As one of the world's freest economies and a two-way gateway connecting the Mainland and international markets, Hong Kong will continue to leverage its unique advantages under "One Country, Two Systems" to develop into a knowledge-based economy and an innovation hub for technology and its application in the region.
In the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020 published by the International Institute for Management Development last week, Hong Kong ranked fifth globally, up three places from last year. This has been our highest ranking since the report was first published in 2017, and we have maintained our second-place position among Asian economies.
In its continued efforts to promote the development of innovation and technology (I&T) in eight major areas, the current-term Government has committed over $100 billion to I&T development through providing technological research infrastructure, subsidising research and development activities, as well as pooling and nurturing technology talent. We will enhance Hong Kong's I&T ecosystem in a sustained manner, building on our strengths to boost our innovation capabilities on all fronts.
A token of thanks to the selfless contributors in our community
The Honours List announced on the National Day awarded honours to people from different walks of life and diverse backgrounds, who have made selfless contribution to the development of Hong Kong in various spheres and benefitted numerous sectors of the community. The number of awardees this year is the highest in 23 years since the establishment of the HKSAR. They include, among others, 114 disciplined and civilian staff who made outstanding contribution in relation to the handling of social incidents and 280 individuals who made unobtrusive yet remarkable efforts in the fight against COVID-19. They are a source of positive energy for Hong Kong society, deserving due recognition and commendation.
Citizens' collaboration vital for boundary crossing
Despite a recent decline in confirmed cases, the epidemic situation remains volatile. Members of the public should maintain vigilance against another community outbreak lest our anti-epidemic efforts over the past couple of months be rendered futile.
In the past, when food establishments were found breaching the regulations by serving more than four persons per table or failing to provide partitions between tables, only the persons-in-charge would be penalised. To enhance the deterrent effect, from now on patrons in breach of the regulations may also be fined $2,000 for each summons. Enforcement departments have been stepping up patrols and prosecutions in public areas within their purviews, and carrying out inter-departmental joint operations to ensure that managers of premises and members of the public abide by relevant regulations. In the past week, a total of around 25 000 inspections were conducted with over 200 fixed penalty tickets issued to offenders.
Making use of the "health code" system
The HKSAR Government is actively discussing with the relevant authorities of the Mainland and Macao Governments to allow holders of certification documents of negative result of nucleic acid test for COVID-19 to be mutually exempted from the 14-day compulsory quarantine under the "health code" system. That said, the local epidemic situation has to be stabilised before we can put this arrangement in place. For this reason, the Government will continue to adopt the prevention and control measures in a prudent manner while members of the public should, in solidarity, keep up with good personal and environmental hygiene without letting their guard down. Besides, the Government is working hard on ways to allow Hong Kong people living on the Mainland with relevant certification documents to return to Hong Kong without being subject to quarantine arrangement. The study has entered its final stage.
Maintaining good communication and co-operation with Legislative Councillors
The Legislative Council will soon resume business with the Chief Executive delivering the Policy Address on October 14. In the year ahead, the HKSAR Government will, as always, maintain good communication and co-operate sincerely with Legislative Councillors from different political parties and backgrounds. We will strive to seek common ground while accommodating differences and reducing internal conflicts in order to do more real work in the best interests of the people and the future development of Hong Kong. Hong Kong will then make a fresh start and regain its charm and glamour.