The Chinese national flags and flags of the Hong Kong SAR flutter in Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]
The most significant message for Hong Kong residents in President Xi Jinping's speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on Wednesday is to get involved in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the city's former legislative head said on Thursday.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the former president of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in an interview that this is likely one of the biggest opportunities offered to residents, and Hong Kong should not let it slip away.
In Shenzhen, Xi encouraged Hong Kong and Macao compatriots to play pivotal roles in investment, entrepreneurship and opening-up, and contribute to the development of the special economic zone.
Xi also called for bolstering the free flow of people and goods in the Bay Area while making full use of the area as a platform to attract more Hong Kong and Macao young people to study, work and live there. He called it one of the nation's most important development plans.
Fan, who attended the ceremony, said she is also confident that the central government will continue to roll out measures making it easier for city residents to live, study and work there, such as the preferential individual income tax policy for talent from the two SARs who work in the Bay Area.
Fan compared the initiative to a "high-speed rail" toward greater prosperity. But Hong Kong young people will have to choose to get on board the train, she said.
Hong Kong's competitive advantage has rested on its open economy, low taxes and free flow of capital, making it attractive to overseas talent, Fan said.
But as the financial hub works to pursue the development of a diversified economy, particularly in innovation and technology, local scientists often run into bottlenecks due to limited resources, she said, which can make it exceptionally difficult for them to turn their research into profitable products.
Looking beyond Hong Kong's border, however, to the Bay Area, not only is there a larger market and sufficient land for large-scale innovative production, but the short distances among the 11 cities also make it a "perfect meeting place" for the best talent in the nation to engage in brainstorming and exchange ideas, Fan said.
In Fan's opinion, it would be "logical" to look north for career potential driven in part by a burgeoning market.
Young people also need to have a deeper understanding of the living habits and traditions of the residents of adjoining cities so that they are able to design products that fit the needs of the vast customer base in the Bay Area, Fan said.
But even with young people deciding to jump on the bandwagon to work in the Bay Area, Fan said it is not going to be "easy", adding that there will be obstacles such as adjusting to a new living environment. But if obstacles are overcome, they will be blessed with advantages such as becoming more independent and resourceful and having a broader horizon, she added.
Like many other people around the world, Fan was amazed by the economic "miracle" that Shenzhen has been able to achieve in 40 years.
She said she thinks that no other city would be able to achieve that in such a short time.
She congratulated Shenzhen on the achievement and said she is certain that the city will reach an even higher level with a package of pioneering policies bestowed by the central authorities, including more liberty in the use of land.