Striving ahead with renewed perseverance
Braving wind and rain Walk out of predicament
29 November 2020
Following the enactment of the National Security Law, social stability has been restored in Hong Kong. Yet our economic recovery is still facing headwinds amid lingering uncertainties over COVID-19. With a proactive mindset as well as extraordinary drive and determination, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will brave the wind and rain and strive ahead to iron out the problems associated with the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”, sustain efforts to put the epidemic under control and address the deep-seated conflicts in Hong Kong.
The Chief Executive (CE) has just delivered her fourth Policy Address entitled “Striving Ahead with Renewed Perseverance”, which, together with its Supplement, covers over 200 new initiatives. Building on our steadfast determination to implement “One Country, Two Systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy, and capitalising on Hong Kong's traditional strengths and the opportunities for integration into the overall national development, this Policy Address manifests the Central Government's staunch support for the HKSAR and embraces the Government's determination to strive for the best for Hong Kong.
The Policy Address seeks to restore Hong Kong's constitutional order, enhance Hong Kong's strengths and diversify its economic development, as well as build on our past efforts to improve people's well-being and resolve immediate and long-term social problems. Serving as a visionary and innovative policy blueprint, the Policy Address is in essence holistic, concrete, pragmatic and forward-looking.
Having included short-, medium- and long-term policy measures in the Policy Address, we would not confine ourselves to the current term of the HKSAR Government by focusing on short-term tasks only, but would rather showcase our commitment and foresight through the medium- and long-term measures, with a view to rekindling hope for Hong Kong and restoring public confidence.
We are deeply grateful to the Central Government for giving full backing to Hong Kong. With the Central Government's support in seven major policy directions, the benefitting measures announced in the Policy Address are far more extensive than previous ones. This is very encouraging and is one of the key highlights of the Policy Address. Taking the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) as the main axle, these measures aim to consolidate and enhance Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre as well as an international aviation hub, develop Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology hub, improve the infrastructure of land boundary control points between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and facilitate Hong Kong enterprises to tap the Mainland domestic market.
Upholding the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”
With a dedicated chapter in the Policy Address to expound the mission of upholding “One Country, Two Systems” and reiterate the importance of the HKSAR's constitutional order, the CE and the HKSAR Government have fully demonstrated their determination and commitment to put Hong Kong back on the right track. The HKSAR Government will firmly adhere to the Constitution and the Basic Law to ensure that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle is fully and faithfully implemented.
The HKSAR was established in accordance with Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. The systems instituted in the HKSAR are prescribed by laws enacted by the National People's Congress. The Basic Law, which was adopted at the Seventh National People's Congress on 4 April 1990, is a constitutional document enacted in accordance with the Constitution and in light of the specific conditions of Hong Kong, forming the basis for the systems, policies and laws instituted in the HKSAR.
National security education plays a vital role in comprehensively safeguarding national security and ensuring the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. It is imperative for the HKSAR Government to step up national security education for Hong Kong people. As stated in the Policy Address, it is incumbent upon the HKSAR Government to strengthen publicity and education to enhance Hong Kong people's understanding of national security and law-abiding awareness. We will make good use of the annual Constitution Day and National Security Education Day to conduct public education on a larger scale. On the Constitution Day next Friday (December 4), the HKSAR Government will hold a seminar on the theme of “The Constitution and National Security”. Legal experts and academics will be invited to share their views on the importance of national security. Members of the public may watch the live broadcast of the seminar via the media or the Internet.
Deepening students' understanding of the history, culture and development of our country, as well as strengthening education on the Constitution and the Basic Law, are the fundamentals for fostering their sense of national identity and awareness of national security. The Education Bureau will, through diversified activities, cultivate primary and secondary students' comprehensive understanding of the nation's development, the Constitution and the Basic Law, the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and the importance of national security, and will teach them to respect and preserve the dignity of the national flag and the national anthem as symbols of our country, in order to foster positive values among students and develop in them national cohesion as well as a sense of identity and belonging towards the nation.
Sparing no effort in fighting the epidemic and achieving “zero infection”
On epidemic prevention and control, a clear account of the work and direction of the HKSAR Government has been given in the Policy Address. We will take all necessary measures to strengthen epidemic control by guarding against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections, and will enhance the precision of the control measures to be taken. The specific work includes tightening cross-boundary control measures comprehensively, mandating high-risk groups to undergo virus tests and providing voluntary virus testing service on a wider scale for people without symptoms. Should we have the support and co-operation of the general public, we may even relaunch the large-scale universal community testing programme in a bid to achieve the target of “zero infection” and resume travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland at an early date. Besides, the Central Government will support Hong Kong in ensuring the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and will reserve a certain amount of vaccines developed or produced in the Mainland for use by Hong Kong people when necessary.
Integrating into the development of the Greater Bay Area
The development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) is a key development strategy for our country's reform and opening up. It will also provide a key direction for reviving Hong Kong's economy after the epidemic. For its active integration into the overall development of the country, Hong Kong should take the GBA development as an entry point and proactively become a “participant” in domestic circulation and a “facilitator” in international circulation.
In respect of youth development, the HKSAR Government will launch the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme to encourage and support young people to work and pursue their career in the Mainland cities of the GBA. Under the scheme, enterprises with operations in both Hong Kong and the GBA will be subsidised to recruit and deploy local university graduates to work in the GBA cities. A total of 2 000 places will be provided, of which 400 are innovation and technology positions.
I have personally contacted more than 20 major trade associations and large enterprises on the scheme and have met with favourable response, which is indeed encouraging. I will continue to invite and encourage participation from more enterprises.
I would like to make a point here that the GBA provides Hong Kong young people with a new pathway for employment and career development, offering them one more option in life. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The GBA is a significant arena for the future development of our young people. With active encouragement and support from the country and the HKSAR Government, they should try to keep abreast of the country's development in the new era and make a breakthrough to embrace challenges in order to benefit from this unique opportunity.
Striving to resolve the problem of land and housing supply
Land is a requisite for housing development. Identifying sufficient land suitable for residential use is a long-standing and deep-seated problem. To get out of the current impasse, the concerted efforts of different sectors of the community are needed. The HKSAR Government has already identified 330 hectares of land for providing 316 000 public housing units to meet the demand in the next ten years. It will also implement a pilot scheme to provide a subsidy for renting rooms of hotels and guesthouses seriously affected by the epidemic for use as transitional housing. Besides, an unprecedented trial scheme will be launched to provide a cash allowance for eligible applicant households which have been waiting for public rental housing for more than three years. Around 90 000 households will benefit from the trial scheme.
Among the many land supply options, the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which will provide the greatest amount of land, is the largest-scale land creation project absolutely worthy of investment. The current funding application is for conducting studies on the artificial islands in the Central Waters involving the reclamation of 1 000 hectares of land and the provision of related strategic transport infrastructure. The Government will strive to commence the studies as soon as possible. In the course of the studies, we will continue to heed the views of various sectors of the community and proactively explore new financing options. The project has a number of obvious advantages:
- creating new land (instead of solely changing the use of existing land from one to another);
- increasing housing supply with a proportion of 70% for public housing;
- optimising the transport network of Hong Kong as a whole and relieving traffic congestion in the Northwest New Territories by linking up the roads and railways on Hong Kong Island, North Lantau and the coastal areas of Tuen Mun;
- developing a liveable and carbon-neutral community;
- boosting the commercial development potential of North Lantau;
- addressing environmental issues by absorbing local public fill instead of sending it to sites outside Hong Kong for reclamation; and
- bringing enormous economic benefits to Hong Kong.
The Government is aware of and concerned about the difficulties faced by grassroots citizens in this economic downturn. A number of new initiatives in education, labour and welfare, healthcare and sustainable development have been proposed in the Policy Address to relieve people's hardship.
Fighting the epidemic is our top priority and the premise on which our work to revive the economy and improve people's livelihood is based. The HKSAR Government will make an all-out effort to put the epidemic under control and implement as soon as possible initiatives that can bring benefits and convenience to the public. The sun will shine again after the storm. Certainly, Hong Kong will find its way out of the predicament and strive ahead with renewed perseverance.