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Hong Kong enjoys 20 years of rapid economic, social development after return

By Yuan Xinwen and Sun Liji (People's Daily)    14:54, June 29, 2017

Aerial view taken on June 8, 2017 shows the scenery in Hong Kong, south China. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland. (Xinhua/LuiSiuWai)

The citizens in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) have been living in peace and prosperity since its return to the motherland 20 years ago.

Its employment rate has been kept below 3.5 percent in recent years, while it maintained an annual 3.2 percent GDP growth from 1997 to 2016, faster than that of many developed economies.

Hong Kong is also a place where people live longer than many other places in the world. The average life expectancy for women and men reached 87 and 81 respectively in 2016. Such longevity is contributed by Hong Kong’s medical system, elderly welfare and people’s healthy eating habits, local media noted.

Thanks to concentrated public hospitals, fairly low hospital fees and advanced medical facilities, Hong Kong’s medical system is believed to be among the most efficient ones. Hong Kong’s hospital authority provides a safe network for citizens by adhering to the policy that “no one should be prevented, through lack of money, from obtaining adequate medical treatment.”

Spending only 10yuan($1.5), Hong Kong citizens can buy whatever kind and quantity of medicine they need from public hospitals. It costs 100 yuan to cover up a day’s hospitalization, with meals and accommodation included.

Meanwhile, housing is a major concern for many Hong Kong residents. Over the past 20 years, the SAR government has provided nearly 13 percent more public rental units. By the end of March 2017, there were 800,000 public rental units in Hong Kong.

The expenditure on social welfare has increased by 70 percent over the past five years, the second highest regular expenditure after education, said Paul Chan Mo-po, financial secretary of the HKSAR.

Being the world’s fourth largest financial hub and eighth largest trading entity, Hong Kong also homes to the world’s fifth biggest container port and the most vibrant cargo airport. The place has been listed as the world’s freest economy for 23consecutive years by the US Heritage Foundation.

Guided by the policy of “one country, two systems,”Hong Kong is full of vitality and high efficiency and its society maintains a professional and untiring spirit.

“Hong Kong is endowed with no natural resources. It has only two very important advantages: location and human resources,” said Yiu Kai Pang, chairman of Employers' Federation of Hong Kong.

To better grasp the opportunity brought by the 13thFive-Year Plan (2016-20), Hong Kong should give full play to the advantages of “one country” and “two systems” and act as a“super contact person”, said the Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Five years ago, economist YueChim Richard Wong said that Hong Kong faced the challenges of both renewing integration with the mainland and maintaining integration with the world economy.

Positioning itself as a “super contact person”, amidst such backdrop, demonstrates Hong Kong’s confidence and courage to meet challenges, Wong added.

In recent years, Hong Kong and the mainland have enjoyed a higher degree of cooperation. The role of “super contact person” has gradually been enriched under a slew of national economic plans to bring ties closer between Hong Kong and the mainland, such as the 13thFive-Year Plan, the cluster of cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Big Bay Area and the Belt and Road initiative.

To date, more than 1,000 mainland enterprises have been listed in Hong Kong stock exchange, the first choice for mainland enterprises to raise overseas fund.

Accompanied by Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect in 2014 and Hong Kong-Shenzhen Stock Connect in 2015, as well as the bond connect that’s going to be launched soon, Hong Kong’s role will be transferred from attracting mainland capitals to allocating assets for the latter , said Charles Li Xiaojia, chief executive of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Though lots of big mainland enterprises and investors have gone international, ordinary people and medium- and small- sized companies still need a channel to be connected with the world economy, Li explained, adding that the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect and Hong Kong-Shenzhen Stock Connect can serve as that channel.

“Efforts to support Hong Kong in consolidating its position as an international financial, shipping, and trade center have been included in the country's 13thFive-Year Plan,” said Chan. Seizing the opportunity, Hong Kong can play the role of “buffer” or “test field” in order to facilitate the internationalization of yuan, he continued.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hu Ximeng, Bianji)

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