Hong Kong stresses importance of stability as competitiveness ranking drops

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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Tuesday stressed the importance of stability as Hong Kong was ranked three places down globally in terms of competitiveness.

Hong Kong was ranked fifth globally in the latest World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020 published by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD), down from second last year.

IMD attributed Hong Kong's lower ranking to factors including lackluster economic performance and the social unrest since last year.

In response to the ranking, a spokesperson of the HKSAR government noted that the social unrest dealt a severe blow to inbound tourism, local consumption activities and investment sentiment in the second half of 2019, pushing Hong Kong's economy into recession.

The social unrest involving violence, vandalism and intimidation of people holding a different political standpoint has also affected how Hong Kong was perceived, as certain survey indicators of the IMD report showed that survey respondents were deeply concerned about Hong Kong's social and political stability, the spokesperson added.

"For Hong Kong to be able to leverage on our competitive advantages, law and order, and social stability are of paramount importance," the spokesperson said. "In view of the emerging threats and organizations advocating 'Hong Kong independence', it is clear that without adequate safeguards for national security, Hong Kong's stability will be at risk."

It is thus critical, essential and urgent for the National People's Congress, China's top legislation, to adopt the decision to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security from the state level in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, the spokesperson said.

The national security legislation aims to prevent, curb and sanction an extremely small minority of criminals who threaten national security, the spokesperson noted, adding that this ensures the continuous successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle and helps maintain an environment that is conducive to business and investment, thereby safeguarding the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

Stressing that the national security legislation will not affect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy under "one country, two systems," the spokesperson pointed out that under the principle, on the contrary, Hong Kong's economic integration with the mainland will bring economic opportunities to Hong Kong.

"The HKSAR government is committed to enhancing the competitiveness and vibrancy of the Hong Kong economy," the spokesperson said, adding that faced with further economic setbacks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the HKSAR government has implemented various packages of initiatives to protect jobs, support enterprises and revive the economy.

"We will strive to maintain our competitive advantages, and at the same time step up investment in infrastructure, and innovation and technology in order to add growth impetus to our development," the spokesperson said, adding, "Hong Kong is poised to be both an active promoter and a beneficiary of important national development strategies such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative alongside the further opening up and deepening of economic reform in the mainland."

"We have every confidence in Hong Kong's long-term economic development," said the spokesperson.

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