Leaders in Hong Kong's political, legal and education sectors expressed their hope on Monday that the nation's 14th Five-Year Plan will enable the city to play a proactive role in the country's "dual circulation growth strategy", using its strategic position as a gateway between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world.
Their remarks came as the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China opened on Monday in Beijing. The plan is expected to be announced on Oct 29.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, envisaged Hong Kong developing into a "professional service center" for the Belt and Road Initiative over the next five years, and play a pivotal role in the new dual-circulation strategy.
"Hong Kong has benefited greatly from the strength of its legal system, availability of professional talent, and a generally business-friendly environment," Lau said. "I believe we can play a crucial role in launching various national initiatives, such as digital currencies."
Lau noted that under the 13th Five-Year Plan, Hong Kong made several landmark achievements in cross-boundary infrastructure and connectivity with the mainland's capital market. He cited the construction of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, as well as the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect and northbound trading of Bond Connect.
Still, there is plenty of room for further improvement, Lau said, adding that Hong Kong's economic development and integration into the motherland have been greatly interrupted by the violent protests and COVID-19 pandemic.
Wong Yuk-shan, president of the Open University of Hong Kong, said the fifth plenary session will usher in a series of important national measures for the next 15 years leading to 2035. "So Hong Kong should definitely not let these rare opportunities pass by," he said.
Wong said Hong Kong's education sector has put in its best effort in forging closer ties with mainland schools over the past five years.
Not only have local universities such as Hong Kong Baptist University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong established mainland campuses in Zhuhai and Shenzhen respectively, Wong said the Open University is also in active preparation for setting up a new campus in Shantou.
"Hong Kong's universities have a longstanding reputation for conducting excellent research in science and innovation, but now our projects often run into a bottleneck due to the lack of land resources and research equipment, which could be easily solved in the Bay Area," he said. "As we deepen our connections with mainland researchers and scholars, this will only be a win-win situation."
Law professor Willy Fu Kin-chi said he looks forward to Hong Kong acting as a "super-connector" in the legal arena in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
"With the fluent biliteracy and trilingualism of Hong Kong legal practitioners, profound common law knowledge and working experience with foreign clients, I am certain that they could definitely contribute to the Bay Area's development," Fu said.