We cannot let Covid-19 undo 25 years of progress for Hong Kong
- Halfway into Hong Kong’s 50 years of transition, the city is again at a crossroads as we struggle to find a way out of the pandemic
- Our ability to break the deadlock, bring back talent and upgrade our role as a gateway to China will set the course for the next 25 years
To people who follow Hong Kong’s development, the city is an amalgam of business vibrancy, cultural richness and social complexity. It’s no exaggeration to say Hong Kong is a city that knows how to survive, developing from a fishing village into a global financial centre – thanks in large part to its agility and connectivity.
At the 25-year milestone, we must ask how the historic changes taking place in China will reflect on Hong Kong in the next 25 years. In 1997, Hong Kong was a more meaningful part of China’s GDP, when the country relied heavily on foreign investment and exports as “the world’s factory”.
With world-class facilities such as the Science Park and well-regarded universities, our tertiary education continues to give us an edge. The bigger question is whether our basic education can produce talent with the right skills for the next 25 years. It is no secret to those of us who are global employers that Hong Kong needs education reform if it is to foster innovation, and after Covid-19 delays, time is no longer on our side.
Nurturing and retaining talent is crucial for our future success. Our multicultural and excellence-driven talent pool is what has propelled the city forward and allowed it to reinvent itself in challenging times.
At the halfway juncture of the SAR’s transformation into a global innovation and culture hub, the pandemic has fettered our limbs. We have become less agile and risk losing our relevance. Although the country’s stable economic development provides a solid backup, we must find a way to break through this stalemate if we believe we are the driver of our own success.
Blessed with great fundamentals and the benefits of the “one country, two systems” model, the most immediate task is to revive our global connectivity to bring talent back. With the recovery of our talent pool, the city will be recharged and in an incontestable position for the next 25 years.
I have the honour of being featured in a commemorative 25th anniversary book and video alongside 17 outstanding individuals, each of whom tells a story about why Hong Kong matters. With such collective wisdom and determined spirit, Hong Kong must be able to once again prove its resilience to the world and charter a new chapter of growth, as China’s most international city and the most sparkling pearl of the Orient.
Sonia Cheng is a member of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and CEO of the Rosewood Hotel Group