First batch of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in Hong Kong and Macau
With many Hong Kong-based MPs in the national legislature and members of the highest political advisory body due to attend the next two sessions in Beijing, they bring a plethora of proposals and suggestions focused on improving economic integration between mainland China and Hong Kong through the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay region.
The focus on economic issues at the most important annual political event highlights the progress made by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in restoring political and social stability following the unrest there over a year ago, as well as pressing economic challenges as the city battles several severe waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sanctions imposed by the United States, analysts said. Further integration with the continent is key to overcoming these lingering problems, they added.
The annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the highest legislative body, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the highest political advisory body, are due to meet on Thursday. Known collectively as two sessions, the event provides an opportunity for lawmakers and policy advisers to discuss important political, social and economic issues for the country, including the definition of various development goals. Also in light of the political and social challenges in Hong Kong in recent years, issues regarding the city became hot topics during both sessions.
Of the five proposals drafted by Witman Hung Wai-man, a Hong Kong-based AFN MP, four directly focus on various aspects of development in the Greater Bay Area, including financial information sharing and use of the digital yuan. , as well as opening more zones to businesses and residents of Hong Kong.
Allowing Hong Kong-based companies to participate in more sectors could help boost the continent’s competitiveness in branding, marketing and e-commerce, and make the Greater Bay region more internationally oriented, said Hung in one of the submissions he sent to the Global Times on Sunday.
“It would also involve business owners and employees of Hong Kong-funded companies more in the nation’s development and give them a greater sense of belonging,” said Hung.
Other APN MPs and CPPCC members based in Hong Kong are also focusing on economic issues and integration in the Greater Bay Area. The Business and Professionals Alliance (BPA) for Hong Kong said its members, who are also APN MPs or CPPCC members, are submitting 17 proposals and suggestions for boosting Hong Kong’s post-pandemic economy. Kong at both sessions this year.
Lo Wai-kwok, member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and President of the BPA, submits a suggestion to further strengthen cooperation in technological innovation in the Grande Baie region, in particular by creating a special fund for major projects of technology research and addressing discrepancies in Hong Kong and the mainland’s technology management systems, according to media reports.
In addition to the long-term development plans for the Great Bay region, there are also specific proposals and suggestions to help the economy of the Hong Kong SAR recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccination certification programs that would allow travel between the mainland and the city, according to the BPA.
Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute and Hong Kong economist, said the most pressing issue was to resume travel as soon as possible to boost business between the mainland and Hong Kong.
“I hope that after the vaccination, especially after the two sessions, the exchanges between Hong Kong, the mainland, and Hong Kong and Macao could be more practical … a way to promote the economic recovery and the development of the three places” Liang told the Global Times on Sunday.
The economies of Hong Kong and Macau depend heavily on visitors to the mainland, but the COVID-19 outbreak has seriously disrupted travel and, in turn, the economies of the two special administrative regions. In 2020, Hong Kong’s GDP contracted a record 6.1%, due to the epidemic.
The first and main problem for Hong Kong is to contain the virus, and “as long as the epidemic can be pushed back, that would be the best way for the economy to recover,” Liang said.
In the long term, more policy measures are expected from the central government to further promote the development of the Grande Baie region, which will likely be included in the government’s work report and the 14th five-year plan (2021-25), which are both expected from both sessions.
Just days before the two sessions, on Sunday, the Guangdong provincial government issued a directive to promote market competition policies to be tested in the Greater Bay Area, including antitrust rules and of unfair competition – a major policy priority for 2021.