by Xinhua writer Wang Lei
BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) -- The national security law has officially taken effect in Hong Kong late Tuesday. It will effectively guarantee long-term stability and prosperity in the Chinese city for global investors in the years to come.
The Pearl of the Orient has long been an ideal place for multinational companies. Over the more than two decades since returning to China, the city has further consolidated its status as an international financial hub and global trade center, as well as a key bridge linking the Chinese mainland with the rest of the world. It was rated the world's top IPO market in 2018 and remains the largest offshore RMB business center in the world.
However, Hong Kong last year saw rampant violence and chaos as radical extremists in the city colluded with meddlers overseas. That turbulent situation in Hong Kong has raised the red flag on the absence of a legal system and enforcement mechanisms on safeguarding national security, and reminded Beijing of the urgency and necessity to better defend China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
The timely arrival of the national security law, just ahead of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, is a decisive step to better uphold and implement the "one country, two systems" principle, create a safer and more stable environment, and better protect the legitimate rights and interests of residents and businesses in the territory. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and its role as a free market and trading hub will never be changed.
In fact, many businesses worldwide have cast their vote of confidence in Hong Kong protected by the new law. In a recent survey by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce on 418 businesses in the city, 75 percent expect positive or no impact at all on their day-to-day operations. Another report by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong showed that over 70 percent of U.S. companies have no plans to relocate their businesses.
"What businesses want is stability and certainty. They want to know that their business isn't going to be disrupted by social unrest," Stephen Phillips, director-general of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, said in an interview with Xinhua. "So the vast majority are really welcoming (the law)."
Hong Kong's geographic strengths coupled with its generally stable and peaceful society are an important factor behind its growing global economic and trade clout. Yet an ever stronger economy in the Chinese mainland and its increasingly closer bond with Hong Kong are a more attractive factor for investors around the world. And only by combining those elements together can Hong Kong's brighter future be possible.
For years, Hong Kong has seen an increasingly deeper participation and played a more active role in China's modernization process and its unremitting reform and opening-up drive.
On the one hand, development initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area city cluster, and the RMB's internationalization will offer a multitude of opportunities to inbound investors and electrify the city's long-term growth.
The Greater Bay Area, with a population of about 70 million and an over 1.4 trillion U.S. dollar economy, will greatly expand Hong Kong's scope for development, and effectively support its sustainable growth with more open and diversified industries.
On the other hand, a more prosperous Hong Kong will also help promote economic development for China as a whole. As a "super connector" between China and its global BRI partners, a more tranquil Hong Kong can better leverage its traditional advantages in world trade and finance to help build a global trade and investment network and enhance regional and international connectivity.
Since last year, rampant street violence has taken a heavy toll on Hong Kong's economy, notably on its tourism industry, and sent the city on track for economic contraction. It once again shows that without stability, economic development would be a non-starter. And the freshly implemented national security law will serve as a ballast for Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.