Hong Kong has been at the mercy of the ebb and flow of different tides over the past year, with our local economy hard-hit by both internal and external threats, and our social cohesion undermined. If we allow the social situation to worsen, the hard-earned achievements of past generations will go down the drain.
Also, given the significant difference in growth rates between Shenzhen and Hong Kong in recent years, we can no longer afford to idle our time away. We must leverage our advantages to help us weather the current crises as we move into the new year.
Shenzhen has been actively investing in R&D in innovation and technology in recent years, and has successfully managed to commercialise the results of this R&D – benefitting a range of different industries. The city’s GDP even surpassed Hong Kong’s for the first time last year. The Central Government’s recent expression of support for building Shenzhen into a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics means that the city will likely see more even vigorous development in future.
Hong Kong, in contrast, recorded negative growth for two consecutive quarters last year. With the local economy undergoing adjustment, it is foreseeable that the GDP gap between Shenzhen and Hong Kong will widen this year.
If Hong Kong is to catch up, we must first consolidate our strengths and get the economy back on track. According to a recent report from the International Monetary Fund, Hong Kong can maintain its competitive advantages as an international financial centre with its free flow of capital, simple tax system, robust regulatory regime, rule of law and high-quality professional services.
Despite weakening economic activities and other unfavourable factors recently, the city still enjoys a solid foundation to withstand potential shocks.
In face of the internal and external challenges, the Government should use its fiscal reserves where necessary to introduce various measures to revitalize the economy. A multi-pronged approach should also be considered to control risks in the property market. When making decisions, the Government should balance social interests with visionary and down-to-earth measures to support various sectors of the community.
In addition to livelihood and welfare issues, I urge the Government to actively assist the business community to address the current challenges, while improving the business environment and attracting investment from home and abroad. All stakeholders should engage in communication in a peaceful and calm manner to resolve problems, so that society can resume normal operations and we can work together for a better 2020.