The Fortune Global Forum 2001 closed in Hong Kong yesterday, with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa highlighting a plan to turn the special administrative region (SAR) into "Asia's World City."
"Our vision is to have Hong Kong play the same role as London plays for Europe and New York plays for North and South America," he told business executives and political leaders at the closing ceremony of the forum.
Hong Kong's position will be greatly enhanced by China's entry into the World Trade Organization, Tung said.
His speech marked the launch of Brand Hong Kong, a year-long programme to promote Hong Kong as a world city.
"Hong Kong remains an ideal location to capitalize on the expanding business opportunities on the mainland," Tung noted.
With China's WTO entry and the opening of its western region, its external trade and direct foreign investment are both forecast to double in the next decade.
The growth will add significantly to traffic passing through Hong Kong's airport and container port and will enhance its role as a financial centre, Tung said.
A stylized dragon has been chosen as the logo for the programme.
"Hong Kong is so multi-faceted and rich in colour that it is not easy to describe," Tung said, "and we believe this phrase (world city) captures the essence of Hong Kong and the role we play on the world stage."
As the chief spokesman for the Brand Hong Kong programme, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang said on a separate occasion that he was optimistic that the promotion program will yield tangible benefits as more foreign investment is likely to flow into Hong Kong.
"This will in turn result in more companies being established in Hong Kong and more using Hong Kong as their regional headquarters and bases, which will create more jobs," he said.
This optimism was echoed by Antony Leung, Financial Secretary of the SAR government.
"We have, with the forum, demonstrated to the rest of the world that Hong Kong is thriving, that Hong Kong is certainly not dead, that Hong Kong, hopefully, will continue to be the number one financial centre and business hub of Asia," Leung said at a press briefing of the forum yesterday.
The new financial secretary called for closer economic co-operation within the region in monetary and trade areas.
With China's accession to the WTO, trade will increase, Leung said.
"And Hong Kong, as the logistic centre of China, particularly of South China, will stand to benefit," he said.Also yesterday, former US President Bill Clinton attached great importance to the partnership between China and the United States in Hong Kong while calling for China's quick entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"I cannot imagine how you could build the future we want without the constructive relationship," Clinton told the 700 business leaders attending the Fortune Global Forum closing ceremony yesterday.
The United States has a fundamental interest in promoting the stability, prosperity and unity of Asia, he said. "The key is getting the China relationship right."
Clinton said that there have been "bumps in the road" of the Sino-US relationship, including last month's collision between a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet as well as America's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999, "something I still profoundly regret."
But Clinton stressed that the two countries share the same ideas when it comes to economic freedom.
"The important thing...is not to assume the relationship is inherently adversarial, but instead to take what we know is true. That the world will be a better place over the next 50 years if we are partners, if we are working together," said Clinton, who had a friendly talk with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
He added that it is imperative to complete China's accession to the WTO at the earliest possible date.
(China Daily 05/11/2001)