Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Tung Chee Hwa, Thursday briefed the United States business community in Hong Kong on Hong Kong's economic and political achievements in the past three years.
Tung, delivering a luncheon speech to the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) as the kick-off speaker of the AmCham's "Leadership Series", said that Hong Kong, since returning to the motherland in 1997, has made much progress in the economic and political fields.
On the economic front, Hong Kong is recovering from the recession brought on by the Asian financial crisis, Tung said, noting that led by strong growth in trade, tourist arrivals, activities of the financial markets and consumer spending, the region has double-digit growth for the first quarter.
He expected Hong Kong to have more good news for the whole year, "not just this year but most likely for next year as well."
Admitting there are other places in Asia recovering faster than Hong Kong, Tung believed that Hong Kong may be the only place in Asia where recovery has been matched with genuine reforms, both in the financial and public spheres.
On Hong Kong's way to embracing the New Economy, Tung said, some people may be in danger of being left behind.
He promised to provide financial resources to help retrain "those who can and want to be retrained," and "make sure that the long term unemployed or displaced workers, primarily late-middle aged people, will be able to find basic livelihood while still being useful people."
On the political front, Tung said that today, unlike the colonial era, the political system is much more open.
The Basic Law has given Hong Kong 10 years from 1997 to 2007 to gain the necessary experience for developing a political system that is compatible to Hong Kong's needs, Tung said.
Taking the Legislative Council Elections as an example, Tung said according to the provisions in the Basic Law, the government will be replacing four of the original ten election committee seats with directly elected ones to be returned by the geographical constituencies.
Aside from electoral politics, there are other forms of participatory democracy that the government is promoting, Tung said. The SAR government welcomes contributions of ideas, comments and criticisms from individuals and organizations on all matters and aspects of government, he said.
In the past three years, with the support of the Central Government and the people of Hong Kong, the region has come a long way. "I think many others would agree, that the achievements of the SAR Government since 1997 have been important," he said.