Even amid a pandemic, Hong Kong is in a better place than most
- The government has been gradually regaining respect as the coronavirus is brought under control
- The city’s unique strengths – proximity to mainland China, common law system and top universities – mean it has a bright future as it continues to welcome global citizens
Last year, the “death” of Hong Kong was again declared in the Western media, as the Hong Kong government lost Hongkongers’ trust.
But not so fast: the government has been gradually regaining respect as it brings the coronavirus pandemic under some semblance of control. At the same time, Hong Kong’s unique position as a gateway to and from mainland China, along with the city’s world-class infrastructure and institutions, continues to appeal to talent and business from around the world.
Compared to Taiwan, another Asian Tiger, Hong Kong has done even more impressively. The Taiwanese, like Hongkongers, got into the habit of wearing masks in public during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic of 2003. In the ongoing pandemic, the Taiwanese authorities were also quick to implement strict border restrictions.
In contrast, the Hong Kong government’s early deployment of vaccines and prudent actions have laid a good foundation for rebuilding trust.
Hong Kong continues to play a vital role in connecting investors, companies and markets around the world. It is keeping up with other major financial centres – London, New York and Singapore – in terms of financial infrastructure, regulation and law, while it has close links with mainland China, the world’s second-largest economy.
Hong Kong remains an international trade, maritime and logistics hub. Hong Kong International Airport has been the world’s busiest international airport since 1996, and Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest container ports. According to the World Trade Organization, Hong Kong was the sixth-largest exporter of goods in the world in 2020, two places up from 2019.
Hong Kong’s common law system is more directly related to the Anglo-American-led international financial system. Compared with the civil law system, the common law system has advantages in financial litigation, arbitration, mediation and dispute settlement.
The 2021 International Arbitration Survey Report, released by Queen Mary University of London in partnership with White & Case, ranked Hong Kong as the third-most-popular arbitral hub in the world. It noted that Hong Kong’s rising popularity was affecting the standing of London, Paris and Geneva.
Through closer cooperation with Shenzhen, Hong Kong will contribute more inventions to the world and commercialise them swiftly.
What’s more, Hong Kong’s most precious intangible assets – openness, international flair and cultural diversity – remain intact, and the city continues to welcome global citizens seeking to study, work and live here. Hong Kong is well placed to achieve more in the years to come.
Fang Zihao is studying for a PhD in economics at Koc University in Istanbul