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In its first official visit to Beijing since inception, a Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) delegation was received by Mr Zhang Dejiang, member of the Central Politburo Standing Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital today (April 27). The Alliance agreed with Mr Zhang’s comment that the Mainland’s policy directives towards Hong Kong echo BPA’s own mission – “Business drives economy; Professionalism improves livelihood”. It also shared Mr Zhang’s view that economic development should be Hong Kong’s top priority, and in its absence everything is just empty talk.
During the meeting, Mr Zhang reminded Hong Kong that the prevailing economic environment remained grave and that the city’s strengths had weakened in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. He urged all sectors to stay alert and take these problems seriously. Noting that uppermost in the international community’s concern is getting out on top of the financial crisis, Mr Zhang said that Hong Kong should “seize new opportunities, find new strengths and realise new developments” in order to promote economic development and improve people’s livelihood.
The problem facing Hong Kong, Mr Zhang said, is similar to a boat going against the tide, the outcome being either moving ahead or drifting behind. In view of the weak global recovery, he said that the next three years would be a crucial period to emerge on top of the economic crisis and that it was of utmost importance for all economies concerned to find their new strengths within this time frame.
The Alliance strongly agreed with Mr Zhang’s assessment. In addition, the group held that incessant political disputes had hampered Hong Kong’s competitiveness and that arguments could not bring the city any new opportunities. BPA Chairman, Mr Andrew Leung, said that the Alliance would continue to make a concerted effort with the rest of the community to promote economic development and create new opportunities for Hong Kong.
During the meeting, Mr Leung said that Hong Kong should capitalize on China’s economic development and help both small and medium-sized enterprises to explore business opportunities in the mainland. He proposed that the early and pilot implementation of CEPA measures in Guangdong, particularly in the sphere of financial and professional services, be extended to cover all pan-Pearl River Delta Region provinces. By so doing not only could Hong Kong enterprises further reach out to the international markets, mainland enterprises could also make use of Hong Kong to go global.
BPA was honoured to be the first visiting group from Hong Kong and Macau to have been received by Mr Zhang in his new capacity as Central Politburo Standing Committee member and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Although the Alliance is a relatively young political group with a history of six months, Mr Zhang had high hope of its development potential. Council Chairman, Mr Peter Lam, was pleased to learn of the Chinese Central Government’s recognition of their work, adding that the Alliance looked forward to strengthening exchanges with the mainland.
The Alliance also took the opportunity to extended concern and condolences, through the Central People’s Government, to victims of the recent earthquake in Sichuan. Vice Chairman, Mr Jeffrey Lam, had offered that upon completion of the relief initiatives, the Alliance would team up with an airline company to arrange 100 children from the quake-stricken region to visit Hong Kong as a gesture of the city’s care and concern.
The trip of the 31-strong delegation, with Alliance members ranging from the Legislative Council, District Councils, to the trade and commerce sector, was a great success. Members visited a number of Chinese ministries and met with their leaders, including the United Front Work Department, and All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.