Hong Kong needs to do more to explore mainland Chinese opportunities and stop being ‘more talk than action’, legislator says

Hong Kong needs to do more to explore mainland Chinese opportunities and stop being ‘more talk than action’, legislator says

Hong Kong legislators have appealed to the government to do more to explore opportunities offered by mainland China’s development and some criticised the promotion of the city’s “superconnector” role as a tired cliché.

Lawmakers said officials should open a government trade office in the northwestern region of the mainland as closer ties would be expected after central authorities relaxed its rules to allow people from more cities to visit Hong Kong.

Most lawmakers at a meeting of the Legislative Council panel on constitutional affairs on Monday said they were concerned by the passive approach of the government to its work to strengthen regional cooperation on the mainland.

Lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen, the only non-establishment member of the legislature, added the government was “more talk than action”.

The Lok Ma Chau border bridge at Shenzhen’s Futian district. Lawmakers have said Hong Kong needs to more active in promoting links with mainland China to exploit opportunities. Photo: Roy Issa

“We have repeatedly been told about Hong Kong’s roles as a superconnector and super-value adder,” he said. “But what do they mean? They seem to have become a vague slogan with no substance.

“We should be more proactive and explore opportunities offered by national development instead of sitting back and waiting to be fed.”

The city has been trumpeted as a “superconnector”, linking the mainland to the wider Asian region and to the rest of the world.

Lawmaker Tang Fei added the city government’s trade offices on the mainland had been lax in their approach to linking up with Hongkongers living or working across the border.

“They can be good resources when officials need assistance on the ground,” he said. “By keeping in touch with them, officials can also have a better understanding of the needs of, and problems faced by, Hongkongers living or doing business on the mainland.”

The government has trade offices in Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuhai, as well as 11 liaison units across the mainland.

“They are mainly concentrated in big cities in central China,” lawmaker Tan Yueheng said. “It is not enough.

“A new office should be set up in the northwestern region.”

Fellow lawmaker Hoey Simon Lee backed his colleagues’ views.

“More offices elsewhere can also help reach out to more other places to explore opportunities,” he said.

Clement Woo Kin-man, the undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, argued that promotion work in the northwest region had largely been covered by the Beijing and Chengdu offices.

He maintained that Hong Kong retained a clear edge over mainland cities.

“We enjoy ‘one country, two systems’,” Woo said, referring to the principle governing ties between Hong Kong the central government.

“We can help connect the mainland provinces and cities with the outside world. We cooperate with mainland provinces and cities by complementing each other.”

Joseph Chan Ho-lim, the undersecretary for financial services and the treasury, added Hong Kong had talent that understood the country and the rest of the world and that the city’s low tax rates were an added attraction for investors.



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