Aerial view taken on June 19, 2016 shows the scenery in Hong Kong, south China. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
By Will Koulouris
SYDNEY, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong's return to China 20 years ago has been a resounding success, and there is "much to celebrate" when looking back at the last 20 years, Australia's former Victorian state premier John Brumby has said.
Brumby, also one of Australia's most prominent business leaders and chairman of the Australia China Business Council, told Xinhua recently that the return of Hong Kong to China "has worked well."
"The Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) continues to be a great entry point for trade into China. It continues to be a very strong economy in its own right, a great centre for finance and banking, and of course, a great expat community of Australians in the Hong Kong SAR."
Looking back at the years since the return, Brumby said that a lot has improved in the Hong Kong SAR, particularly the way in which the Hong Kong SAR has managed to adapt ... which is a real testament to its strength as an economic hub in the region.
Brumby believed that China has managed to ensure that the parts of the Hong Kong SAR that make it unique have remained, with residents thriving over the past 20 years.
"Hong Kong, as a centre for finance and for banking, has a strong reputation, a sound reputation, is a place of stability and certainty, and I don't see any changes to that in the future," he said.
"The things that are attractive about the Hong Kong SAR, the great harbour, the great airport, the service, the vitality, the energy, just the magnificent vista of the buildings and the harbour, I don't think that has changed," he added.
In terms of his own country, Australia, and its relationship with not only the Hong Kong SAR, but also a wider extent China, Brumby noted that the future opportunities are "enormous."
"The Chinese middle class is growing by 25 million people per annum. That is as much as the Australian population. We are seeing that. We are seeing that in tourism numbers, we are seeing that in education numbers, we are seeing that in just the purchase of Australian agricultural goods; things like wine, cheese and butter, and meat," he said.
"And that is the same for the Hong Kong SAR, so all of that just looking forward is a positive outlook. Positive for China, positive for the Hong Kong SAR, and positive for Australia."
With regard to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Brumby sees it as not only a boon for the Hong Kong SAR, but for the entire Asia-Pacific region and the world.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
"The Belt and Road is good for China, it's good for Hong Kong, but it's also good for the world economy and that is the most important thing," he said.
"It will mean more traded goods more efficiently, and more traded goods more efficiently means more GDP and employment growth, and that is a good thing for the world," he added.