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[Opinion] Time for Hong Kong to fulfil unique mission
Latest Updated by 2006-03-13 15:20:20
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NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2006

 GD Provincial People's Congress & CPPCC annual Sessions

One of the significant events that mark this year's sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) meetings is the beginning of the 11th Five-Year Plan. It is the first indicative plan for the country's economic and social development, and is therefore sometimes referred to as the 11th Five-Year Programme. It is also the first one with specific mention of Hong Kong and Macao.

 

Like all preceding five-year plans, the present one reflects the development strategy in light of the prevailing conditions and the governance philosophy of the current government.

 

Briefly stated, China's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has just passed US$1,700 and the country is now entering into a phase where social turbulence is likely to be incurred. Instead of pursuing economic growth as the country's primary objective, now it is viewed as a means to improve the general welfare of the populace to achieve socio-political harmony, and harmony with nature.

 

This strategy is revolutionary not only in the Chinese context, but also among the developing world, as it is the first developing country striking out in this entirely new direction during the early stage of development.

 

Even among rich countries with clear sky and blue water, this Chinese philosophy with emphasis on man's harmony with nature has a richer content than the conventional sustainable development paradigm, and one with an operational programme for implementation.

 

Our achievements of the past decade, notably more people getting above the poverty line along with more trees to fight erosion, have proved to the world that we do not have to be rich before cleaning up the mess, not to mention some rich country that refuses to carry out this obligation.

 

In 15 years' time when this new strategy will have been fully executed and China achieves a per capita GDP of US$3,000, we will be able to contribute to the world an alternative model of development with proven success in a holistic way. This is the Chinese model of peaceful development.

 

Now coming down to earth, and to Hong Kong where I reside, by the very fact of inclusion in the country's five-year plan, the central government has assigned certain place for the Special Administrative Region (SAR) in the national economy, and a certain division of labour.

 

In the new five-year programme, Hong Kong's position as an international financial, trade and shipping centre is explicitly acknowledged, and its developments in tourism and communication will be supported.

 

On the one hand, Hong Kong will be given preference over other competing cities in these areas, and whenever applicable, preferential measures will be accorded to boost its development. With the largest market in the world behind us, and a rapidly growing one for that matter, the effect is awesome. A notable example is the flooding of mainland tourists to Hong Kong after the SARS outbreak in 2003, culminating in an immediate turn-around of the economy.

 

On the other hand, it will settle the debate, mostly within the SAR, on whether Hong Kong should redevelop its manufacturing industries. As viewed from Beijing, the Hong Kong economy is now 88 per cent service, and it should build on its strength and remain this way at least in the next five years.

 

Also mentioned in the programme proposal is the increase in exchange and co-operation in economy and trade, technology and education, culture, health and sports; as well as in infrastructure, industrial development, resources utilization and environmental conservation between Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland.

 

In fact, there exists a mechanism in this sphere among neighbouring governments, which has made significant progress. With a little push from Beijing, more will be achieved in the near future.

 

Hong Kong has played an over-sized role in the past without much conscious government intervention because it used to be China's only window to the outside world. The situation is entirely different now, and Hong Kong has to find its niche amidst fierce competitors.

 

The Hong Kong SAR government is the only party that can take up this path-finding role, and inject the necessary resources into the new direction to make it a success. Through this endeavour, the national economy will gain additional impetus, and by fulfilling its unique mission under "one country, two systems," the Hong Kong economy will regain its vitality.

 

This is a win-win situation, and also the territory's destiny, which somehow its citizens will have to realize, the sooner the better.

 

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China Daily Website
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