MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Since the reunification, Hong Kong has experienced the financial turmoil and the financial tsunami. As a result, our economy is stuck in the doldrums and our competitive edge is diminishing gradually. The economic strengths we enjoyed in the past are also disappearing slowly. During this period, Hong Kong people were deeply troubled by a wide range of problems, unemployment, salary reductions, investment setbacks, uncertain prospects and the like. Now, even university students are concerned about their future prospects. The “Pearl of the Orient” seems to have lost its lustre. In order to maintain its status as an international financial centre and a world city, Hong Kong must move forward in search of a new direction and a new mindset.
Nevertheless, it is in fact very difficult to explore new developments. Ourtrade and economic development is under enormous constraint mainly because the local market is very small and highly sophisticated. It is extremely difficult to develop new industries or expand existing business. On the other hand, despite the proximity of Hong Kong to the Mainland, a number of local industries have been unable to integrate or co-operate with the mainland market due to the varying systems of the two places and the separation of the two places by the boundary. In order to seek new opportunities, Hong Kong must break the present various constraints in search of further economic and trade integration with the Mainland.
The Shenzhen Overall Comprehensive Reform Pilot Programme (the Programme), approved by the State Council lately, explicitly empowers Shenzhen to accomplish, at an early stage and on a pilot basis, its mission in four areas, including undertaking major tasks in relation to the State’s effort to enhance economic co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong at an early stage and on a pilot basis. The Programme also proposes that Shenzhen achievescomplementarity of function with Hong Kong in promoting the establishment of a global logistics centre, trade centre, innovation centre and international cultural creativity centre. In order to enhance its competitive edge, Shenzhen has, in recent years, strived for co-operation with Hong Kong. This is also a major turning point for Hong Kong to further integrate economically with the Mainland in concrete terms.
During a recent interview by the mainland media, Chief Secretary for Administration Henry TANG has stated in mentioning the issue of financial co-operation between the two places that, since China’s reform and opening up, the financial industries of Hong Kong and Shenzhen have been operating in the form of “using the front portion of premises for shops and the rear portion for plants”. Now that Shenzhen has already become a competitive market, the two places may make a bold attempt in allowing some financial institutions in HongKong to operate “front shops”, in addition to setting up “rear plants”, in Shenzhen at an early stage and on a pilot basis. According to the Chief Secretary for Administration, this will be beneficial to Shenzhen for the experience accumulated in Hong Kong can thus be brought to Shenzhen, and there will be new opportunities in the innovation of products and services. As a result, a win-win situation can be achieved.
The Chief Secretary for Administration’s analysis is in fact highly accurate. At present, with the increasingly close collaboration between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, we should treasure this opportunity and strive to seize the opportunity to co-operate with the Mainland by experimenting with Shenzhen at an early stage and on a pilot basis. If successful, it can then be expanded to Guangzhou and other places on the Mainland. Should problems be identified, promptrectification can be carried out, and it will be easier for problems to be resolved. I welcome the original motion and the amendments. Members have put forward a lot of valuable opinions. My amendment mainly seeks to include the insurance industry, which has not been mentioned in the original motion, and add something to the issue of environmental protection.
As a major component of Hong Kong’s financial industry, the insurance industry has a history of development of more than a century in Hong Kong. It is exceptionally experienced in various aspects from product design to loss adjustment, sales management, customer service, reinsurance and the like. Such experience, which is on a par with the international standard, is an important asset of the local industry. Meanwhile, the Mainland’s insurance industry, which isdeveloping in full swing, is a market with excellent potential. The industry in Hong Kong is willing to collaborate with their mainland counterpart. Not only can we bring our accumulated experience to the Mainland, we can also create additional job opportunities on the Mainland. Furthermore, we can promote innovation of products and services with a view to achieving a win-win situation for both Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
The insurance industry in Hong Kong has always yearned to enter the Mainland. However, according to CEPA, Hong Kong insurance companies must possess a total asset of US$5 billion and an operational experience of 30 years and must have established a mainland office for two years in order to enter the mainland market. It is basically very difficult for Hong Kong-invested insurance companies, except multinational companies in Hong Kong, to meet theasset requirement. Therefore, assisting Hong Kong-invested insurance companies in pursuing development in Shenzhen at an early stage and on a pilot basis will provide an opportunity to facilitate the development of the industry in the two places.
Another proposal raised in my amendment seeks to urge the Governments of Hong Kong and Shenzhen to enhance cooperation between the environmental protection departments of Hong Kong and Shenzhen with a view to ameliorating the problem of cross-boundary pollution. According to a paper submitted by Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau to the Legislative Council, air pollution in Hong Kong is serious. Apart from problems of our own, regional pollution is also one of the causes. The paper points out that Hong Kong accounts for 5% to20% of regional pollution, while the Mainland’s PRD economic zone accounts for 80% to 95%. Although Shenzhen is not solely responsible for the air pollution problem in PRD, Hong Kong can certainly make a better effort in environmental protection with Shenzhen’s assistance if communication between the environmental protection departments of the two Governments can be enhanced, given that Shenzhen is closest to Hong Kong and the Governments of the twoplaces will enhance their communication and co-operation.
President, I so submit.