Hong Kong should ride the wave of the mainland’s 13th Five-Year Plan

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-20 22:28:01

Hong Kong has witnessed much unrest in recent years. Combined with the rise of the Chinese mainland, some say that Hong Kong is losing its advantages, but this is not the case. Apart from its traditional advantages in areas like finance and trade, Hong Kong has high levels of human capital.

Hongkongers are proficient in bi-literacy and tri-lingualism, and are highly professional. For instance, our strictness and discretion in the stock market has gained trust across the world.

Hongkongers are also advanced in urban planning as they would take into consideration an array of factors and don't relentlessly go after economic benefits. Take railway building. It takes more time and cost for Hong Kong to build a railway than the mainland because it has to consider environmental assessment and monitoring, among other factors.

Hong Kong hence is able to provide sophisticated and professional services that large cities need. Besides, while there are still many restrictions in a variety of fields in the mainland, Hong Kong enjoys more freedom.

But Hong Kong has problems in its economic structure. Advanced industries like trade, finance and arbitration profit Hong Kong heavily but contribute little to the job market. Most young Hongkongers that don't receive a higher education can only get a job in traditional service industries and are pessimistic about their future. They make up the majority of participants in the protests and unrest seen in recent years. Their development has grabbed much of my attention.

These young people are good at localized cultural innovation such as shooting films and writing songs, which don't require a diploma but have a huge market. These are the positive effects of localism that should not be suppressed. Hong Kong is and has to be a diverse society.

The 13th Five-Year Plan has proposed improving links between Hong Kong and the mainland. Having fallen behind the mainland in technology, Hong Kong needs to start now and catch up by making use of the technological development of the mainland.

In this process, high-speed railway has a critical role to play and matters much to what contributions Hong Kong can make to the 13th Five-Year Plan. After all, developed infrastructure brings in people and this facilitates exchanges.

Currently, the biggest challenge lies in not the budget but the controversy over the joint immigration checkpoint, which I propose should be addressed by legislation. If young Hongkongers are enabled by high-speed rail to live in Hong Kong, and work or have start-ups in high-tech field in Shenzhen to tap the huge market of the mainland, this will be of great help to address the problems facing Hong Kong and maintain regional stability.

The future of Hong Kong largely depends on ourselves. Beijing is unable to help Hong Kong in every way and we have to figure out our own future. It helps if the central government can support the diverse development of a localized culture and economy.

Many people think that the current situation in Hong Kong has much to do with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Admittedly, he has ideas and is determined, but his hard style has cost some of his popularity. If the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government doesn't change its governance style, street politics of Hong Kong may see no change. I always believe that if a family lives in harmony, everything will prosper.

But I am still optimistic about political reform in Hong Kong.

I was impressed by the reference of promoting democracy and harmony in Hong Kong in the 13th Five-Year Plan. This is a directive given to the next chief executive of Hong Kong and once carried out, it will make a significant difference to Hong Kong.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Sun Xiaobo based on an interview with Michael Tien Puk-sun, deputy chairman of the New People's Party and a deputy to the National People's Congress, during the two sessions that just wrapped up. sunxiaobo@globaltimes.com.cn

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