【明報專訊】RELATIONS between China and Japan have been thawing this year. After Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Japan in May, Shinzō Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, is to visit China this week, the first official visit made by a Japanese Prime Minister in seven years. Not only will he meet with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese leaders, but he will also attend a commemorative event celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China and the First China-Japan Third-Market Cooperation Forum. After Abe's China visit, Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong Chief Executive, will also visit Japan, opening a new chapter for Hong Kong-Japan relations.
Carrie Lam's visit to Japan will be her first official visit to Japan in eight years, as well as the first in nine years for a Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Although the Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong's foreign affairs are handled by the central government, the HKSAR government may use the name "Hong Kong, China" to maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organisations in the appropriate fields, including the economic, trade, financial and monetary, shipping, communications, tourism, cultural and sports fields. It may, using the name "Hong Kong, China", participate in international organisations and conferences not limited to states. The central government may decide, after seeking the views of the HKSAR government, whether an international agreement to which China is or becomes a party will apply to Hong Kong in accordance with its circumstances and needs. The Hong Kong government is authorised to conclude visa abolition agreements with foreign states or regions. In other words, Hong Kong enjoys a lot of leeway in interactions with the outside world.
Take, for example, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the related Investment Agreement signed between Hong Kong and ASEAN last November, which help reduce the restrictions in doing business and expand business opportunities for Hong Kong enterprises and bring about better market access in areas such as access for the trade in goods and services as well as investment protection to Hong Kong. Recent analysis of international markets suggests that ASEAN, with a population of 640 million people, might become the biggest winner in the trade war between China and the US, as the trade war has, inadvertently, facilitated huge investments in Asia, of which ASEAN is a part. It is expected that ASEAN, now the sixth biggest economy in the world, can jump to fourth place in 2030.
It is difficult for Hong Kong to stay unaffected by the ongoing trade war between China and the US. Facing scepticism about its high degree of autonomy abroad and supporters of Hong Kong's independence relentlessly testing the central government's bottom line domestically, Hong Kong should adhere to the stance of "One country" at the same time leveraging the advantages offered by "two systems". It should take full advantage of its specialities in the international arena to blaze a trail amid the conflicts between China and the US which not only allows Hong Kong to save itself but also helps our country to solve its problems. This will make the international community have proper regard for Hong Kong's value again. Whether Hong Kong will once again become a bridge and link with which China can break through the international blockade depends on whether the HKSAR government can take the initiative to use its creativity. It will also be dependent on the central government's tolerance and wisdom.
scepticism : an attitude of doubting that claims or statements are true or that sth will happen
leverage : to get as much advantage or profit as possible from sth that you have
speciality : an area of work or study that sb gives most of their attention to and knows a lot about; sth that sb is good at