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Speech by Ambassador Wang Lutong at the reception in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China

Honorable Speaker Carter, Deputy Speaker Borrows,

Distinguished MPs and members of Diplomatic Corps,

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,

    On behalf of Chinese Embassy, I extend warm welcome to you all for coming to today’s reception.

    On 1 July 1997, the Chinese Government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China was established. Over the past 20 years, the Chinese Central Government, in accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, has been firmly adhering to the principles of ‘one country, two systems’, ‘Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong’ and a high degree of autonomy. Efforts have always been made by the Central Government and Hong Kong SAR Government to retain Hong Kong’s status as an international financial, trade and shipping center while continuing to maintain and develop its economic and cultural characteristics. Hong Kong, as ‘the Pearl of the Orient’, is becoming more and more vibrant and dynamic.

    ----Hong Kong’s status as ‘the world's freest economy’ has been further consolidated. Since 1995, in the Index of Economic Freedom by Heritage Foundation, Hong Kong has always been rated as the freest economy in the world. In 2016 and 2017, Hong Kong was consecutively rated as the world’s most competitive economy by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    ----Hong Kong's economy has been developing steadily. From 1997 to 2016, Hong Kong's GDP increased from HK$1.37 trillion to HK$2.49 trillion, an annual increase of 3.2%. In terms of the per capita GDP, Hong Kong is always among the top ones of the world's major economies.

    ----The level of rule of law in Hong Kong has increased significantly. With the successful implementation of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the global ranking of Hong Kong's rule of law has climbed to the 11th in 2015 from behind the 60th in 1996. Hong Kong’s performance in rule of law was always among the top ones in various rankings by different international institutions and its judicial independence was rated the 4th worldwide.

    ----The Central Government has always been giving strong support to Hong Kong. With the support of the Central Government, Hong Kong successfully went through the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis. The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) that is signed in 2003 has contributed to the steady growth of Hong Kong's economy over the years. At present, Hong Kong's position as an international financial center and a global hub for offshore Renminbi business is being further strengthened.

    Currently, the Chinese Central Government is studying and developing a development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, with the aim of giving a full play to the unique advantages of Hong Kong and Macao for the upgrading of China’s economic development. With its integration with the Mainland being deepened, Hong Kong's position as an international financial, trade and shipping center will be further strengthened, which will help to build a better future for the people of Hong Kong. We have full confidence on that.

    The prosperity and development of Hong Kong over the past 20 years could not be achieved without the efforts by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the people of Hong Kong, and the strong support of the Central Government and all Chinese people. It is also attributed to the support and assistance of all parties, including New Zealand, to which I express our deep thanks.

    Over the years, Hong Kong and New Zealand have worked closely in various fields such as finance, tourism and education. After the handover, Hong Kong–New Zealand relations have been further strengthened. In 2010, New Zealand became the first country to sign a free trade agreement with Hong Kong. In May this year, Hon. Prime Minister Bill English had a successful stopover in Hong Kong. The Chinese Central Government is gald to see Hong Kong and New Zealand continue developing cooperative relations in fields such as economy, trade, finance, tourism, education and legal services. We believe such cooperation will make further contribution to the development of China–New Zealand relationship.

    This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and New Zealand. Over the past 45 years, bilateral relationship has been continuously scaling new heights, creating many ‘firsts’, and has been playing an exemplary role among China’s relations with Western developed countries. In March this year, Premier Li Keqiang paid a successful visit to New Zealand during which over 20 deliverables have been achieved, creating new ‘firsts’. At present, the two countries are working together to implement the deliverables and exploring new highlights of the bilateral relationship.

    In particular, I would like to mention the cooperation between China and New Zealand on the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. In this regard, New Zealand becomes the first South Pacific country to sign a cooperative document with China. In May this year, Hon. Paul Goldsmith, Science and Innovation Minister, participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, which reflected the importance attached to the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and the Forum by the New Zealand Government. I believe this will effectively strengthen the coordination of economic policies and the alignment of development strategies between our two countries and further advance bilateral pragmatic cooperation in various fields.

    For Hong Kong, the cooperation between China and New Zealand on the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative means new development opportunities. As an international financial, trade and shipping center, Hong Kong has the capacity to leverage its geographical advantages to seek better deelopment while making its contribution to China-New Zealand cooperation in this regard. At the same time, a prosperous, stable and flourishing Hong Kong will make greater contributions to China-New Zealand friendship and the development of the bilateral relationship.

    Now, I would like to propose a toast,

    to the prosperity, stability and development of Hong Kong,

    to the comprehensive development of China-New Zealand relations,

    to the health of everyone here and the health of your families,


    Thank you.

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