Editorial:Policy address: setting sights on the north

【明報專訊】Chief Executive Carrie Lam has postponed her upcoming policy address, explaining that she needs to consult the central government and seek its support late this month regarding a series of economic recovery proposals that involve the mainland. But some have questioned whether the decision was made to ''accommodate'' President Xi Jinping's inspection tour in Shenzhen. Because of the current political and social atmosphere in Hong Kong, anything that involves the mainland or the central government is often met with lots of speculations. One who believes it never doubts it. One who doubts it never believes it. The postponement of the policy address at the eleventh hour is unprecedented. However, given the strain of the pandemic on Hong Kong people's livelihood and the economy and the external environment, it is impossible to ''move on amid the pandemic'' without setting one's sights on the north. It will also be desirable if the policy address contains more substance. The Hong Kong government has put forth multiple proposals to the central government regarding financial interconnection and intercommunication, Shenzhen and Hong Kong's collaboration on innovative technologies, the consolidation of the city's shipping industry and so on. It is hoped that the abrupt changes to the arrangement of the policy address will not bring about only minor adjustments, but new measures that are bold and vigorous and that can help Hong Kong come out from the difficulties of the pandemic.

The announcement of delaying the policy address has come all of a sudden, only a short time before the first meeting of this year's Legco session to be held on Wednesday (today). Lam said she has put forward a series of economic revitalisation proposals that involve the mainland to the central government, hoping to help Hong Kong out of the present plight. She was informed over the weekend that she has to travel to Beijing and attend coordination meetings with central ministries late this month. If the central government supports her proposals, the measures concerned will be included in the policy address and announced altogether by the end of November.

The mainland has seen a V-shaped rebound in its economy after bringing the pandemic under control. Among all the major economies across the world, only China can report economic growth this year. By comparison, more than half a year into its battle against the coronavirus, Hong Kong is still mired in the mud and struggling hard. The city has failed to break the cycle of recurrent outbreaks. The economy has also shown no signs of improvement. It is expected that the Hong Kong government will have a deficit budget over the next couple of years. The financial reserves that were originally over HK$1 trillion have diminished significantly by HK$300 billion for the sake of relief measures amid the pandemic. In view of the serious condition of the pandemic in Europe and America, the world economy has largely weakened. Hong Kong has found it very hard to move on as a highly open, small economy in times of the pandemic, not to mention its awkward situation and difficulty to have the best of both worlds amid the rivalry between two major powers of the world. In order to revitalise the economy, we need to find an area to home in on. The issue is not about whether relying on the mainland or the Greater Bay Area is the ''only option''. It is about why we should grasp the chance now that there is an existing option before us and seek mutual benefit and win together.

According to Lam's description, the revitalisation measures for which the Hong Kong government is seeking support from the central government are mostly about the economy, like arrangements for trading and professional services in the Greater Bay Area, the expansion of interconnection and intercommunication in the financial field, the promotion of co-operation on innovative technologies between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and the consolidation of the city's status as a shipping hub (particularly the issues surrounding its aviation industry). If the concrete measures for revitalising the economy put forth to Beijing by the Hong Kong government are truly viable and effective, they should help Hong Kong considerably in coping with the current difficulties.

明報社評 2020.10.13:疫境前行向北望 施政須謀破困局





■/ Glossary 生字 /

at the eleventh hour:at the last possible moment; just in time

substance /ˈsʌbstəns/:importance

home in on sth:​to direct your thoughts or attention towards sth


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