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The Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA)’s Business, Financial and Professionals Delegation today (September 26) met with Mr Han Zheng, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Shanghai Party Secretary, for an in-depth discussion on the opportunities for broader cooperation to achieve a win-win outcome for both Hong Kong and Shanghai. Dr Peter Lam Kin-ngok, BPA Council Chairman, said Shanghai and Hong Kong have been working closely together and with the introduction of the Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone (FTZ), this has created new cooperation and investment opportunities. He hoped the Shanghai FTZ would play an integral role in facilitating companies to ‘win big’ going forward. On behalf of the delegation, Dr Lam expressed gratitude to the Shanghai Government for the high-level status accorded to and VIP reception organised for the delegation.
Following Mr Han’s briefing to the delegation on the latest developments in Shanghai, Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman, praised the city on its exceptional achievements and remarkable progress with respect to its economy, infrastructure and competitiveness. He also noted the increasingly close ties between the two cities and the growing awareness of the opportunities arising from a mutually beneficial relationship. He reiterated his wish for the international financial centres in Hong Kong and Shanghai to forge stronger links together and to leverage on their partnership to jointly push for a shift in the centre of the financial gravity towards the East and, in the process, bring more business opportunities to the two cities, which will in turn help drive development across the nation.
The soon-to-be launched Shanghai – Hong Kong Stock Connect is high on the agenda of the delegation as there is considerable interest in the timeliness of the launch. Following the meeting with Mr Han, Mr Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, BPA Vice Chairman, commented that “good news would be forthcoming.” He said Mr Han understood that there were a lot of interest in the Shanghai – Hong Kong Stock Connect and although there were some outstanding issues, these were not of a major or technical nature. As such, there was little cause for concern as Mr Han had personally assured that implementation would take place “very, very soon” as scheduled in October.
Mr Jeffery Lam Kin-fung, BAP Vice Chairman and Legislative/Executive Council member, added that Mr Han had described the Shanghai – Hong Kong Stock Connect as “Global Connect” because the programme was not only confined to linking the stock markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong but would also be fulfilling the objective of global integration. According to Mr Han, Hong Kong would become a conduit under the programme, on the one hand, facilitating Chinese capital flows to world markets, and promoting the inflow of global funds into China on the other. This will be an undertaking of massive proportions and also of symbolic importance in the opening up of China’s capital account as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges work ever closer together.
Mr Lam also quoted Mr Han as having said that the Shanghai and Hong Kong governments were planning a joint meeting to promote better cooperation between the two cities. This is consistent with the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” under which Beijing extends full support to Hong Kong’s economic and financial development, an exercise that Shanghai is keen to contribute to. In response to a delegate’s suggestion to increase the number of commercial flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai to address the growing volume of passenger traffic, Mr Han said Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport would soon undergo reconstruction and assessments would be made to take this development into account.
With respect to the Shanghai FTZ, which is also of considerable interest to the delegation, Mr Andrew Leung said that Mr Han had disclosed to members that subsequent policy initiatives would be more aggressive and carry greater impact. Mr Han had also pointed out that Shanghai FTZ was a shorthand for China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone, which as implied by its name is a archetypal undertaking by the country that so happened to be located in Shanghai. The internationalization of the renminbi should proceed at a gradual and orderly pace to control risks.
BPA Vice Chairman Dr Lo Wai-kwok pointed out that at present 40% of the foreign firms in the Shanghai FTZ were Hong Kong enterprises. It goes to show that Hong Kong’s business and professional sectors are finely attuned to and have seized first-mover advantage on the opportunities offered by the Shanghai FTZ.
The more than twenty members of the BPA’s Business, Financial and Professionals Delegation wrapped up their three-day visit to Shanghai soon after meeting with Mr. Han Zheng. During their time in Shanghai, delegates were able to visit the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administration, the Shanghai Equity Exchange and the United Front Work Department of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee. These interactions will contribute positively to the strengthening of mutually beneficial ties between Hong Kong and Shanghai. The BPA looks forward to playing a more significant role in bolstering bilateral cooperation between two of China’s leading cities by building bridges to enhance dialogue in the commercial, financial and professional sectors. Consolidation of this ‘sibling’ partnership between Hong Kong and Shanghai will enable both cities to better seize upon the myriad opportunities associated with the rise of China, as well as the shift in the centre of the financial gravity towards Asia.