It is in Hong Kong’s interests to have as much free trade as possible

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 2017, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 2017, 11:19pm

President Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ), in his first visit to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum last month to address delegates from the global community, alerted them to the danger of a new round of trade protectionism. He reassured them of China’s support for economic globalisation. In his closing statement, the forum’s executive chairman, Klaus Schwab, said “the international community is looking to China to continue its responsive and responsible leadership in providing all of us with confidence and stability”.

Soon after his inauguration, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) consisting of the 12-member countries around the Pacific Ocean, excluding China. This was his first measure implementing his “America first” policy to bring jobs back to America that he declared in his inaugural address.

America’s withdrawal from the TPP does not mean the remaining 11 members may not want to go ahead with TPP, and may even invite China and other Asian nations to join the pact.

China Daily reported Beijing has been an advocate of two other free trade pacts – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Free-Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

The vision and plan for an Asia-Pacific free-trade zone by leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies should be supported.

As a free port and international trading city, Hong Kong has an abiding interest in promoting free trade and opposing trade protectionism. Since its lifeblood is in free trade and being a free economy, it is imperative that whoever becomes chief executive must have the confidence of Beijing so as to cooperate with the central government and to develop Hong Kong’s economy and to have broad community support in order to govern the city effectively.

I am a former legislator and believe the next chief executive must have wide experience in working with the political parties and the Legislative Council. That person will also have to have the vision and ability to inspire and mobilise the younger generation to know more about the mainland and realise they are Chinese citizens under the “one country, two systems” principle.

This enables both sides to know and learn from each other under the dynamic and constantly adapting capitalist and socialist economic systems that have enabled China, which includes the Hong Kong SAR, to become in a relatively short period, the world’s second-largest economic entity.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan