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HK's economic progress impossible without mainland's help: Chan

By Zhan Qianhui | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-21 09:50

File photo of Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po. [Photo/VCG]

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said Hong Kong's remarkable economic development during the past 20 years would have been impossible without the nation's constant support.

"Hong Kong has overcome many difficulties and achieved good economic performance since the reunification with motherland in 1997," the financial secretary said.

According to official figures, Hong Kong's GDP in 2016 was HK$2.5 trillion ($320 billion), an 81 percent nominal increase from that in 1997. Government's fiscal reserve nearly reached HK$1 trillion ($128 billion) by the end of March, more than double the amount 20 years ago.

"Our GDP per capita is more than $44,000, a 60 percent increase compared with 1997 and higher than that in Japan and some European countries, " Chan said. "We have created over 600,000 jobs during the past two decades and the employment figure is now about 3.8 miilion."

The SAR government also attached great importance to the improvement of people's livelihood, increasing spending on social welfare by over 70 percent during the last 20 years, Chan added.

The number of Hong Kong's listed companies has risen to around 2,000 from 650 in 1997, 65 percent of which are mainland enterprises. And mainland companies contribute to more than 70 percent of the daily trading volume in Hong Kong's stock market, Chan said.

"Our nation's economic take-off since the reform and opening-up has provided vast opportunity for Hong Kong to develop as an international financial center and we are very grateful for that," he said.

According to Chan, Hong Kong's economy suffered a lot after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and SARS in 2003, which dampened people's spirits.

"The property prices fell by over 60 percent and everyone was very pessimistic," Chan said. "In order to inject impetus to Hong Kong's economy, the central government put out the individual visit scheme in 2003, lifting our economy from a gloomy state and bringing confidence to all of us."

The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) has strengthened Hong Kong's economic connection with the mainland and provided great opportunities for local companies and professionals to explore the mainland market, the financial secretary added.

Chan said the economic development miracle achieved by China since the reform and opening-up has surprised the whole world and the role Hong Kong played in national development also changed subtly.

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