John Lee says multilateralism is 'part of Hong Kong's DNA'

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) John Lee said on Friday that multilateralism and globalization are "part of Hong Kong's DNA" and its success is based on "versatility and resilience."

Attendees at the inaugural ceremony of the Hong Hong Center of the International Finance Forum in Hong Kong, China, May 5, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

Lee made the remarks at a major conference on multilateralism and globalization hosted by the International Finance Forum (IFF) together with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Hong Kong Academy of Finance.

Delivering a recorded address to the forum through video link, Lee said Hong Kong is "bestowed with the unparalleled advantage" of having strong national support while being connected to the rest of the world, thanks to the "One Country, Two Systems."

As a dynamic and highly competitive global financial center, Hong Kong remains a strong supporter of multilateralism and global economic cooperation, he said.

"We don't just talk the talk, we also walk the walk," Lee said, citing the HKSAR government's recent efforts to reach out to international partners that included his Febrarury visit to the Middle East.

He added that Hong Kong is striving for early accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the world's largest trade deal.

The HKSAR government is sparing no effort to pursue high-quality development, said the chief executive of the HKSAR.

In his opening speech at the forum, Paul Chan, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, reiterated Hong Kong's commitment to free trade, to reducing trade barriers and ensuring the free flow of goods, capital and people.

He also highlighted Hong Kong's strengths in green finance and its commitment to contributing to world green development.

"Last year, the green debts issued or arranged in Hong Kong exceeded U.S. $80 billion," Chan said. "In terms of the amount of international green bond issued, we are No. 1 in Asia."

IFF Co-Chair and Chairperson of the Council of Presidents of the UN General Assembly Han Seung-soo said as two critical issues facing humanity today are climate change and digitalization, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has much to do in order to help ameliorate the problems that may arise from these two issues.

As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, the IFF invited political dignitaries, financial authorities, academics as well as executives from the finance sector to discuss topics including enhancing global cooperation, monetary policies, the challenges and opportunities for Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area as a whole.

The IFF also launched its Hong Kong Center during Friday's conference.