By Xinhua Writer Yan Hao
HONG KONG, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Leung Chun-ying, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has said that the development plan for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area could be a new booster for Hong Kong's development in the future.
If the opening up and reform of the mainland over the past 30 years is one opportunity for Hong Kong's economic boom, the Greater Bay Area plan will become another, said Leung in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland.
The Greater Bay Area will include the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region, and nine cities in south China's Guangdong Province, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Foshan, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen.
According to the annual government work report in 2017, China will draw up a plan for the development of a city cluster in the Greater Bay Area, give full play to the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, and elevate their positions and roles in the country's economic development and opening up.
As the most international metropolis of China, Hong Kong could take the advantages of the "one country, two systems" to make new contributions to the country's development, said Leung.
As a witness of Hong Kong's return, Leung was elected as the secretary-general of the Consultative Committee for Hong Kong Basic Law in 1988 at the age of 34. "The first job I was given was to solicit public opinions on the draft of the Basic Law," he recalled. "We went to every residential community with the copies of the draft and listened to local residents."
The chief executive still remembered that many Hong Kong residents at that time wondered what banknote they should use to buy their first meal after Hong Kong's return.
Before 1997, some foreign economists asserted that two currencies could not coexist in one country. The Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong dollar, as the legal tender in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, shall continue to circulate after Hong Kong's return.
"Under the principle of 'one country, two systems', Hong Kong has successfully maintained the legal status of the Hong Kong dollar since the return, " Leung said.
The chief executive said the "one country, two systems" principle has been successfully implemented in Hong Kong over the past two decades. To ensure that the principle is implemented in Hong Kong without any distortion, it is vital to strictly abide by the Basic Law.
"It requires all Hong Kong people to comprehensively and accurately comprehend the principle and the Basic Law," said Leung, adding "not only the articles literally, but also the original intention and meaning".
Looking back the past 20 years, Leung believed that Hong Kong should actively adapt itself to its new roles in the fast development of the country.
"What the country needs varies in different periods of time," said Leung.
Hong Kong has served as a "super-connector" between the mainland and the rest of the world in terms of trade and investment in the country's drive of reform and opening up over the past 30 years, he said.
Over the past 20 years, and the past five years in particular, by taking the advantage of the "one country, two systems", the SAR government has made great efforts to facilitate Hong Kong to play new roles for the country in innovation and technologies, said Leung.
The SAR government has successfully introduced many top-edge institutions to set up branches in Hong Kong. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened an Innovation Node, the first of its kind outside the United States.
The Karolinska Institute, a medical university based in Stockholm, also established its China-Hong Kong Center, the first of its kind outside Sweden.
Leung told Xinhua it is the advantage of "one country, two systems" that attracted these foreign research institutes to set up their branches in Hong Kong. "So we should constantly review and adjust Hong Kong's roles so as to make different contributions to the country in different periods of time."
The Belt and Road Initiative presents another development opportunity for Hong Kong in the future, said the chief executive, adding Hong Kong's enterprises could "take the same boat" with the mainland partners in sailing into the countries and regions involved in the initiative while working with foreign partners to introduce new projects to the mainland.
"The mainland enterprises have strong competitiveness in infrastructure construction, while the Hong Kong enterprises have been highly recognized on their abilities for property management," Leung said. "So they have complementary advantages in many ways."
"Hong Kong should seize the opportunities of the Belt and Road Initiative and the plan of the Greater Bay Area," he said. "I am very optimistic about and have full confidence in Hong Kong's future."