Whether from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa at the Boao Forum in Hainan, or from Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen speaking on RTHK, the message yesterday from the Government's two most senior figures was co-ordinated and familiar. Hong Kong faces severe economic and social difficulties and rivals in the immediate region are developing at a giddy pace. Nevertheless, the advantages Hong Kong continues to enjoy, and which it can build on, will ensure that it not only succeeds in building on its strengths, but also that it will maintain its position as China's most sophisticated economic centre. Mr Tung went even further, once again, in a repeat of an ambition he has expressed before: during his second term as Chief Executive he wants to focus on making Hong Kong more competitive and to concentrate on its development not only as a major Chinese city but as what he describes as a 'world city of Asia' - as London is to Europe and New York is to the Americas. Mr Tsang's morale-boosting message is no doubt comforting; and all Hong Kongers (if they have time to consider their city's world status), would gladly aspire to Mr Tung's ambition. But such grand visions are plentiful and easy to articulate. What is less obvious to many people in Hong Kong are significant initiatives to bring the ambitions to fruition. Such a paucity of tangible initiatives was highlighted in Mr Tsang's address yesterday. His words were, to say the least, mixed. On the one hand he tells Hong Kongers to 'build on . . . existing strengths' and 'blow away the pessimistic fog' that is clouding the community; while a little later he is telling people that unemployment and economic hardship may well get worse before they improve and that the Government sympathises with everyone. This message, in such difficult times for so many thousands of people who are genuinely suffering, genuinely at their wits end through worries about jobs and money, is simply insufficient. Mr Tsang's reassurances that after touring cities in the Pearl River Delta his conclusion is that Hong Kong is not being left behind in terms of economic development is welcome - up to a point. The fact remains, however, that while co-operation between Hong Kong and Pearl River businesses is beginning to gather pace, far more needs to be done to foster partnerships. Without concrete co-operation for co-ordinated development, Hong Kong will find itself locked in rivalry - if it is not already - with cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou, to the detriment of all.