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董建華 論壇
團結香港基金

中國實現百年藍圖建文明法治社會

2015-12-14

團結香港基金創辦人兼主席董建華先生於2015年12月14日出席由團結香港基金主辦的「今日中國:新前景、新機遇」論壇,發表主題演講。論壇假香港會展中心舉行,邀請到來自美、英、法三位政商界著名翹楚,以及香港蘭桂坊集團主席盛智文先生出席演講,香港馮氏集團主席馮國經博士擔任主持。論壇吸引逾600多人出席,主要為青年人,分別來自30個青年團體和10間大專院校。以下為董建華先生的發言辭:

各位朋友、嘉賓:

午安!

多謝您出席這個論壇。今天十分難得可以請來四位傑出的嘉賓,為我們討論一個我們都關心,亦是與我們前途息息相關的議題。四位講者與我們分享他們的智慧和經驗,在此,我向他們深表謝意。我亦非常感謝各位嘉賓抽空出席。

我們舉辦這個論壇目的,是在中國正在迅速成長和發展的時候,探討世界和香港如何能抓緊這個機遇。今天,不論在本地市場、學術界、以及國際舞台都在談論中國的經濟發展和影響。我們透過臉書、推特等網絡媒體,經常接收到有關中國的信息及新聞,有時你們會以為自己了解中國的狀況,但有時亦覺得不大清晰。中國發展一日千里,我們要不斷更新對中國的認識,才能明智地評估中國現時的地位,以及將來的機遇。

今天我們有幸邀請到來自美國、英國、法國和本港的四位傑出講者,從國際視野角度透析中國的現在和將來。我想以我的觀察和經驗,先和大家談一談形成今日中國的那些重要歷程及發展。在過去幾十年,我有幸得以近距離觀察到中國的偉大成就──包括許多的波折及深刻的教訓。可以說中國的成功絕非偶然,而是靠堅守其基本信念。中國一直都在追求互惠協作的信念,這個原則正正在中國國家主席習近平於過去兩個半月的外交活動中,表露無遺。

習近平主席在此期間進行了六次國事訪問,首先訪問美國、隨之到了英國、越南、新加坡、津巴布韋、以及南非。訪問期間,他又參加了五個多邊會議,包括在紐約的聯合國重要會議、土耳其的20國集團領導人峰會、馬尼拉的亞洲太平洋經濟合作會議、巴黎氣候變化大會、以及中非合作論壇約翰內斯堡峰會。他還參加了金磚國家領導人非正式會晤,此外,他在多邊會議期間會見了30 位國家或地區的領導人,就雙方共同關心的話題進行雙邊討論。在這兩個半月,除外訪活動之外,習主席在北京處理國家事務時,分別與到訪中國的德國總理默克爾和法國總統奧朗德會面,舉行雙邊會議。 

習主席的頻密的外交活動,突顯了中國對良好國際關係的高度重視。他給予外國領袖的信息都是清晰明確的。在和平共處、互相尊重、互不干涉內政以及發揮雙方優勢的原則下,達致互利共贏、共享繁榮的局面。習主席強調,中國認為,我們活在一個互相依靠的世界,一個面對挑戰及轉變的世界,只有各國之間攜手合作,才能克服各種困難,例如經濟增長放緩、恐怖主義威脅、以及氣候變化危機。

習主席及隨訪人員所到之處,都受到了尊重與熱情接待。

請允許我講述一下中國近年在國際事務上所作的貢獻。第一,在世界經濟從2008年金融海嘯中復蘇過程中,中國發揮了舉足輕重的作用。從2009-2011年,中國對世界經濟增長所作的貢獻,超逾一半。最近,雖然中國經濟進入新常態,以每年百分之七的速度增長,但對世界經濟增長的貢獻仍維持在30%。

第二,中國在解決或緩解全球重點爭議,包括朝鮮、阿富汗、伊朗等危機中,發揮了建設性作用。中國也與聯合國安理會其他常任理事國一起,向世界各地派出維和部隊,參與聯合國維和工作。

第三,中國正尋求方法促進全球尤其是發展中國家的經濟增長。中國的「一帶一路」計劃不僅有利於中國,也將惠及東南亞、南亞和中亞各國,在中東及歐洲的國家也可得益。各國對亞洲基礎設施投資銀行的支持,顯示了許多國家為了自身利益皆樂見這計劃得以成功推動。 在非洲, 較早前於約翰內斯堡舉行的中非合作峰會上,也尋求方法利用中國的「新常態」經濟,以及非洲為不再過度依賴自然資源,逐步轉型所作的努力,讓雙方進一步落實優勢互補,互利共贏。 會談的結果讓人充滿希望。

第四,我們應該慶幸巴黎的氣候變化會議可達成協議。自從在哥本哈根的會議失敗後,中國的國策是致力推動巴黎會議取得成功。中國和美國是兩個溫室效應氣體排放量最多的國家,在這次巴黎氣候會議協議達成上,過程中出現很多困難,中國代表扮演重要角色,最終促使協議達至成功。

以上,是中國積極參與國際事務,與世界各國攜手向前的事例。 

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團結香港基金創辦人兼主席董建華先生,對中國能完成至2049年建國百年的規劃願景表示極大信心。

中國過去的剖析

我現在談談中國的過去和現況。

今天的中國,洋溢著樂觀和希望。 這與她的過去截然不同。了解昨日的中國有助我們理解今天的中國。

中國的衰落始於清朝末年,孫中山先生於1911年10月發動的辛亥革命,推翻了滿清政府,欲為中國帶來新的希望。然而,接下來的卻是內亂、軍閥割據、內戰、及日軍的侵略佔領,帶來了持久的傷痛與破壞。

直到1949年,中華人民共和國成立,經歷了多年戰亂及破壞的中國一貧如洗, 許多地方的人們食不果腹。基建、住房、教育、醫療衛生設施及其他的社會福利均百廢待興,亦需建立新的政治體制,雖然工作繁重,但是中國終於統一了,國家建設的工作,亦可以開展。

當然,文化大革命期間中國犯過錯誤。但自1978年,鄧小平提出改革開放的政策促使真正的發展,令國家踏上一條走向發展成為現代化大國不可逆轉的大道。

中國現今登上國際舞台

今天的中國,市場經濟制度茁壯成長,主要的基建設施已具規模。 教育、醫療及其它社會福利也全面普及。1978年至今,超過三十多年來經濟以每年接近10%的速度增長。就算以今天新常態下,經濟仍然能夠以每年7%速度增長。 城市化進程穩步前進,人民生活顯著改善。這一切使近7億人民得以脫貧。

今天的中國,是全球第二大經濟體系,擁有全世界最多的外匯儲備, 同時也是全球兩個最大的貿易國之一。在人類歷史上,在如此短時間內達成這麼巨大成就,是無其他國家能及的成就。

許多人都想知道中國是如何創造出這一奇蹟的。 這當中有部分是外在因素。 中國從空前擴張的國際貿易及高效推動生產力的科學技術中受益匪淺。中國有效地抓住了這獨特的機遇。

但更重要的是內在原因。首先是領導班子交接制度化,以能者當之為基礎,讓領導層權力順利移交。另一原因,是國家領導人能制訂具前瞻性的長期宏觀經濟及地緣政治策略,以及貫徹執行非常複雜的政策。領導人在意識形態和原則的指導下, 不怕挑戰舊思維,並在必要時做出靈活的新嘗試。 這個新思維,是讓中國高速發展的重要原因。

另一個重要的原因是中國人民的勤奮和要成功的決心,加上不斷提升的自由度,激發了國民創業創新的熱情。如今民營企業已經佔國民生產總值的60%,這一比重仍然繼續上升。

促進經濟發展和扶助人民脫貧,是中國自從改革開發以來一直堅持的目標。2008年金融風暴後,另一個新焦點是應付國內外因金融風暴所引起的挑戰。優先處理這些事項是正確的方向,可惜國家投放不夠關注力在其他重要事項,例如環境保護和管治,管治不夠著力便導致貪腐問題惡化。但慶幸中國政治制度可以迅速及有效回應和糾正這些錯誤。這方面的工作仍然繼續,並且得到人民的支持。初步已取得的成效,令人鼓舞。

未來的願景

以上簡述了中國的過去與現狀,中國的未來又如何呢?

要了解中國正在走的方向,我們需要知道她對未來的願景,以及看得到她所規劃的路線圖和藍圖。

2049年的目標

在2049年,中華人民共和國將迎來百年華誕,中國的願景是屆時躋身發達國家行列。我們預期看到的是強大的中國經濟在未來數十年間將繼續壯大,迎接共和國百年盛典。 這不僅是一個經濟目標。國家領導人清楚意識到追求純經濟指標並不足夠。我們是要有一個發展良好的經濟、財富均衡分配,小康的生活水平,健康的生活環境,以及一個文明、正義和依法治國的社會。這就是中國未來幾十年間的願景。為達到這一目標,經濟結構將會有進一步的調整,對經濟增長的追求也將更加重質而非量。

既然中國已有清晰的願景,該如何達至呢?

2020年的路線圖和藍圖

最近,經常會看到一些中國的腐敗官員和國企高管被檢控的消息。的確,反腐行動是國家建設策略之一,並且是中國願景的一個重要部分,這一策略不僅是為了在經濟上建設小康社會,更為了進一步改革社會和政治體制,在廉潔、愛民的黨的領導下,建立一個公正平等的法制社會。

「十三五」規劃預期於明年3月提交全國人民代表大會表決。

此規劃預期到2020年時,國民生產總值將較2010年翻一番。中國的領導人知道自1978年改革開放以來,10%的經濟增長率難以持續。在這個五年計劃中,中國將進入一個「新常態」。中國經濟從過份依賴出口、投資、廉價勞工,正逐步靠向消費、服務業、科技及知識的經濟發展方式轉型。

這一「新常態」是將來成功之匙,它有五大基石所支持。首先是創新,這將成為經濟增長新動力;其次是區域協調發展,避免重疊;第三是可持續發展;第四是堅持改革開放;最後是共享繁榮。對於中國這樣一個大國,新常態將開啟嶄新的世界,但它也是進一步發展的唯一方法。

目前國家仍面臨著巨大的挑戰,尤其在工業產能過剩、老年化社會、對改善醫療服務的需求以及消除貧困等領域。國家會處理這些挑戰。 「十三五」計劃中,中國將幫助餘下的7000萬人在2020年前脫貧。

要完成中國的願景、路線圖、藍圖並非易事,過程中將充滿著預料中的或突發性的國內和國外的挑戰。我們是有理由樂觀:

1、中國經濟體系強大、人力資源充沛、有一個日趨成熟的中產階級市場,以及科技的不斷發展;

2、中國領導人清楚明白,要達到經濟和社會發展目標,一定要不斷改革,依法施政、建立公義社會、共享繁榮、並須由一個廉潔和勤政的政黨所領導。

3、國際上,中國會盡一切努力,去尋求和平和共享繁榮,並與鄰國和其他國家共同發展以提高生活質素。中國古語有云:「睦鄰天下興」。 即使從自身利益出發,中國也將發展和維持睦鄰友好關係,並積極發展友好的新型大國關係。中國亦會繼續深化和擴闊對外開放。

成功達到2049年的願景,就是實現了中國夢。還有一段長時間才到2049年,在實現中國夢的路途上,會有不同的內在和外來的挑戰。 但是以中華人民共和國建國66年來我們所取得的成就,加上我們政治制度的優勢和勤奮人民的支持,我有信心中國將能完成願景,實現夢想。

香港如何能獲益

我請大家將注意力放回香港。儘管世界上發生了許多波折,但香港始終是一塊福地。2008年出現的金融危機,令一些國家至今仍未能恢復元氣。但從2011年起,香港的失業率就維持在3.3% 的低位,家庭收入平均每年增長6%,特區政府也持續錄得巨額盈餘。 

香港的成功有多方面的原由,但其中很重要的一點就是中國內地經濟的發展,對香港起到了非常積極的影響。縱觀歷史,香港的命運確實與中國內地密不可分。 

中國因素是香港最大的競爭優勢。在 「一國兩制」之下,我們受惠於 「一國」所帶給我們的經濟增長利益。同時「兩制」讓我們可以保持既有的生活方式,包括繼續實行普通法的司法制度。有了這些優勢使香港有別於其他地方包括新加坡或上海。

第二項優勢源於香港作為國際化大都會的地位。事實上,香港較亞洲區內任何城市都更加國際化。香港有相當多的人擁有海外教育背景,或有海外聯繫。這使得香港能夠在中國與世界其他地區之間扮演「超級連繫人」的重要角色。

第三是我們有全亞洲最好的服務產業,包括金融、法律、醫療及教育領域;作為一個著名的旅遊中心,我們擁有世界級酒店與餐廳,豐盛多釆的娛樂及會展盛事,自然風光也相當明媚。

我們的第四項優勢在於擁有暢通無阻的渠道,以匯集全球資訊、資金及人才,加之對中國內地市場的了解,為創新提供了獨一無二的沃土。

這四大優勢讓香港處於一個獨特的地位,承接中國發展大潮帶來的利益。當中國正持續向2049的目標邁進,其經濟會持續增長,人民幣將逐步加強兌換能力,人民生活標準會提高,國家將需要高質量的專業服務,這恰是香港的強勢所在。作為一個「超級連繫人」,香港能有效地協助「十三五」、「一帶一路」等規劃與國際接軌。最終,中國為各地區平衡發展所做的努力,亦將會為香港的企業家打開更廣闊的市場。而在改革開放三十年間,香港工商界在中國沿海地區,尤其是珠三角及廣東地區發展中的功績有目共睹。

亞洲區的經濟將持續增長,香港位於亞洲中心,能為亞洲各國提供多樣的高質專業服務,我們過往幾十年中所做到的,也將在未來延續、甚至做得更多。

中國的崛起為香港提供一浪又一浪獨特的、史無前例的機遇。在「一國兩制」下的香港,前景一片光明。

香港當然亦面對多項挑戰,包括我們立法機構和政治制度的紛爭及停滯不前、許多港人對國家的現況缺乏了解、以及政府急需因應世界迅速改變而發揮更積極角色。我抱有信心,只要大家同心同德,這些問題在未來幾年會順利解決。

擁抱中國:我們的目標 我們的將來

最後,我想對香港人,尤其是香港年青人說幾句話。因為我們現在談的是未來,是你們的未來。

在過去一年,我特別仔細去聽取年青人的呼聲。

我知道香港年青人有多方面的關注,追求一個更公平公義的社會,渴望更多他們能負擔置業的住屋、更理想的教育制度裝備自己,以應付轉變中的世界。這是你們的訴求,是我的期盼,也是我們的共同期望,是我們共同努力的目標。

我相信大多數香港人都希望我們能夠更積極地參與和支持中國的崛起,並從中受益。這是我們應當承擔的使命。

然而,要達致這目標,我們必須更清楚了解中國,了解中國的歷史、文化,國家的挑戰與機遇。 

我們應如何去了解中國?「千里之行,始於足下」。我認為最好的方法是親身穿梭祖國大地,與祖國人民交流,了解他們面對的挑戰和心中的期許。到內地求學交流也是一個好主意,亦可以在畢業後報讀內地的研究生課程,或到中國企業實習。 無論如何,投資時間和精力多了解內地狀況和到內地學習都是必要的。

深入認識中國,會讓你更能掌握工作上和事業上所遇到的機遇和挑戰,不論你日後選擇在什麽地區工作或開展什麽類型的事業,都是如此,可以讓你一生受用不盡。

希望您願意為此做出努力,團結香港基金支持你的每一步行動。 

英文演講原文

Friends and guests, Good afternoon and thank you for joining us!

It’s not often that we can gather such a distinguished group of speakers as we have today to discuss a topic which is so close to our hearts, and so important to our future. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the speakers for agreeing to share their wisdom and experiences, and to our guests for giving up their time to be with us.

Our mission today is to shed light on how the world and Hong Kong can ride the wave of China’s rapid growth and development. China and her economic future and influence are topics on everyone’s lips – in local markets, in the academic world, and on the world stage. In this modern age of Facebook and Twitter, we constantly get snippets of information about what is happening inside China. And sometimes, you may think you know what is going on there, but sometimes you may not be so sure. China has been developing so fast that we need to be constantly on the alert to keep up with what is happening there, so that we can more intelligently assess her position today and her opportunities in the future. And this forum is put together for that very purpose.

Today, we have the honor of the presence at our forum of four distinguished speakers to give us their views on China from a world perspective – one each from the United States, Britain, France, and one from our very own Hong Kong.

Before they take turns to speak, I would like to first share my own observations and experience to highlight some of the important events and developments that have shaped modern day China. Over the past few decades, I have had the privilege of observing China’s enormous success at close range – the many twists and turns and the many hard lessons that were learnt. And all I can say is that the success of modern day China is not accidental. It has been made possible by adhering to her fundamental beliefs. One of these beliefs is the need for interdependence and collaboration with the outside world. China’s desire to putting this principle into practice could not be better demonstrated than by the diplomacy championed by President Xi Jinping in the past two and a half months.

During this period of time, President Xi undertook six state visits, beginning with the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Singapore, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In between those meetings, he also attended 5 multilateral conferences, beginning with a number of important meetings at the United Nations in New York, and then on to the G20 Summit in Turkey, followed by the APEC meeting in Manila, the climate change conference in Paris, and, finally, the summit at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg. While at the fringes of the G20 Summit, he also attended the BRIC head of state informal meeting. Furthermore, taking advantage of the multilateral meetings, Mr. Xi met more than 30 state or government leaders on the fringes of the multilateral meetings for separate bilateral discussions over issues of mutual interest. During those two and a half months, in between overseas visits, Mr. Xi attended to the affairs of the state in Beijing. During that time, he separately received visits from Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Hollande of France for bilateral meetings.

The intensity of President Xi’s activities highlights the great importance China attaches to good international relations. And his message to his hosts overseas was loud and clear – that China desires to pursue peace and shared prosperity under the principles of mutual respect, non-interference, and leveraging each other’s strengths to create win-win situations. President Xi stressed China’s recognition that we live in an interdependent world, a world that faces many challenges as well as changes; and it is only through collaboration that we can overcome the many difficulties the world faces, such as economic growth, fighting terrorism, or overcoming climate change.

In these gatherings, President Xi and his colleagues were received with great respect and enthusiasm everywhere they went.

Allow me to elaborate on some of China’s contributions internationally in recent years. First, China played a significant role in helping the world to recover from the global financial crisis of 2008, contributing over 50% of global economic growth from 2009 to 2011. More recently, even though the Chinese economy has entered into a “new normal,” growing at about 7%, her contribution to world growth still stands at about 30%.

Second, China has been playing a significant role in helping to resolve or mitigate crises in global hot-spots, such as North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iran. She also leads all other UN Security Council Permanent Member nations in providing UN peace keeping forces around the world.

Third, China is looking for ways to bolster economic growth globally, but particularly in the developing world. Her “One Belt / One Road” strategy will not only help China, but also many countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central Asia. Countries in the Middle East and Europe may also benefit. The support for Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank suggests enormous interest of many countries to turn this initiative into reality. In Africa, at the recent China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, the two partners sought ways to leverage China’s “new normal” economy, and Africa’s effort to move away from overreliance on natural resources, to another win-win situation. The meeting ended on a hopeful note.

Fourth, we should all rejoice that the Paris climate change conferences have come to a successful conclusion. Since Copenhagen’s unsuccessful conference, China’s national policy has been to work toward a successful conclusion in Paris. Some two years ago, China and the United States, as the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, agreed to together take a strong lead to ensure the Paris conference will come to a successful conclusion. This has now come to fruition.

I hope this can give you an idea of how much China has become engaged with the rest of the world.

Insights from the Past

Let me now move on to the topic of China’s past and present.

China today is a story of hope and optimism. China’s past is a different story, and appreciating her past is one way to better assess her future.

China’s decline began towards the end of the Qing Dynasty. The revolution in October 1911, which was started by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, brought about the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and, at the same time, ushered in high hopes for China’s renewal. But unfortunately chaos, warlordism, civil war and the Japanese invasion and occupation ensued, all of which caused a prolonged period of pain and destruction.

It was not until 1949 that the People’s Republic of China was established. But, by that time, after years of disorder and devastation, the country was financially bankrupt and there was hunger in parts of the country. Infrastructure, housing, schools, health care facilities and other social welfare services needed to be built. New political institutions needed to be established. The work ahead was enormous, but, at last, the country was united as one and true nation building could begin.

Of course, mistakes were made during the Cultural Revolution. But since the reform and opening up policy, which was initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, real development took hold, launching China on an irreversible trajectory toward modern statehood.

Ascendance to the world stage Today

Today, a market economy is thriving. Essential physical infrastructure has been built. Education, health care and other social services has been made widely available. Since 1978, for over thirty years the economy expanded at a rate of close to 10% per annum. Today, even under the new normal, the economy is expanding at 7%. Urbanization has progressed and livelihoods have improved dramatically. Throughout all this, 700 million people were lifted out of poverty.

Today, China is the second largest economy in the world, holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, and is one of the two largest trading nations in the world. Never before in the history of mankind, has so much been achieved for so many people in such a short period of time.

Many wonder how China’s miracle has come about. Some of the reasons are external. The unprecedented expansion of global trade and the heightened use of science and technology to improve productivity globally have benefited China to a great extent. Indeed, China has been able to seize upon these unique opportunities very effectively.

But more important are the internal reasons. First, the smooth transfer of leadership, based on meritocracy has been institutionalized. Second, is the ability of the Chinese leadership to formulate sound long-term macroeconomic and geopolitical policies, and to effectively implement very complex policy initiatives. Leaders, under the guidance of their ideology and principles, were not intimidated by the necessity to challenge old thinking and make fresh changes. They responded promptly and acted flexibly. This mindset is the key to set China on the trajectory of high-speed growth.

Third, is because of the hard work of the Chinese people and their determination to succeed. Additionally, the expansion of freedom in the country has lifted the innate entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Chinese people. Today, private sector enterprises account for more than 60% of the GDP of the country, and that figure is continuing to rise.

Throughout this period since reform and opening, China’s singular focus was on speeding growth and lifting people out of poverty. Post 2008, the focus was also on combating the financial crisis at home and globally. They were the right priorities, but unfortunately, insufficient attention was paid to other important issues, such as on environmental protection and governance, the lack of which exacerbated corruption. Fortunately, China’s political system can respond quickly and effectively to correct these errors. This is being done, and being done with the support of the people. Indeed, initial results are encouraging.

A Vision for the Future

So much about the past and the present. What about the future?

To understand what China is going through, we need to know her vision of the future, and visualize her roadmap and blueprint that have been laid out.

Objective of 2049

Let me talk about this vision. By 2049 when the People’s Republic marks its centennial, China’s vision is to join the ranks of the developed countries of the world. What we would expect to see is that the already giant economy will once again transform itself in the decades towards that next centenary. This will not just be an economic target alone. China's leadership well recognizes that a pure economic target is not enough. A well-developed economy, a fair distribution of wealth, a decent living standard, a healthy environment, a civil and upright society, and a just society governed by the rule of law – this is China's vision for the next few decades. To that end, its economic structure needs to be adjusted accordingly and growth will be more focused on overall quality rather than quantity.

So while China's vision is clear, how will it get there?

The strategic roadmap and blueprint for the run-up to 2020

These days, one often reads or hears about corrupt officials or executives of SOEs getting prosecuted. Indeed, the anti-corruption campaign is an important part of China's four-pronged nation building strategy and a critical part of its vision. The strategy is to build not only a well-off society, but also further reform the social and political institutions to ensure a fair, equitable society governed by law rather than individuals, and led by a party that's clean, conscientious and cares for her people.

With regard to the 13th Five-Year Plan, the timetable is for the National People’s Congress to pass the plan in March of next year. In this plan, China expects her GDP to double by 2020, as compared to that of 2010. Chinese leaders understood that the 10% per annum growth rate since reform and opening began in 1978 is unsustainable. Through this new Five-Year Plan, China will take a path of a “New Normal,” moving away from an overreliance on exports, investments, and cheap labor, to one that relies on consumption, on the services sector, and on science, technology and knowledge.

This “New Normal” holds the key for future success. It is supported by five anchors. The first is innovation, which can move the economy forward; second, is coordinated development of her various regions to avoid duplication; third is sustainable development; fourth is continued reform and opening-up; and fifth is the sharing of prosperity for all. For a country of this size, this “New Normal” is a brave new world, but it is the only way to move forward.

The country is still faced with enormous challenges, particularly in the areas of industrial overcapacity, an ageing society, the need for healthcare improvements, and the eradication of poverty. All these challenges will be tackled. Indeed, the upcoming Five-Year Plan vows that the remaining 70 million people who still live in poverty in China shall be lifted out of poverty by 2020.

Realizing China’s vision, roadmap and blueprint, is not easy. The road is fraught with challenges, predictable and unpredictable, domestic and international. However, there is reason to be optimistic:

1) China will benefit from the enormous size of her economy, a huge population, a large and maturing middle-class market, together with progress in science and technology.

2) Chinese leaders clearly understand that only with persistent reform, the implementation of the rule of law, the building of a just society, the sharing of prosperity, and leadership by a clean, conscientious party, will China be able to achieve its economic and social development goals.

3) Internationally, China will do her best to embrace peace and shared prosperity, growing together with its neighbors and beyond to achieve better standards of living. As the Chinese saying goes, "peace with neighbors brings prosperity at home." Even for its own self-interest, China will develop and maintain a good neighbor policy while keeping amicable relations with other big powers based on the new concept of major power relationships. China will also continue her effort to deepen and to broaden her opening up to the outside world.

Realizing Vision 2049 is realizing the Chinese dream. 2049 is many years away. The road forward will be full of challenges, both domestic and international. But, given what we have achieved in the last 66 years since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, I am full of hope that, with the political institutions and the support of the hard-working people, there is a good chance to deliver that vision and dream.

How Hong Kong stands to benefit

I would now like to turn your attention to Hong Kong. In our recent history, despite the ups and downs all over the world, Hong Kong has been a reasonably fortunate place. The financial crisis of 2008 left such a long tail of destruction that today some countries are still trying to recover. But, from 2011 onward, Hong Kong’s unemployment was only 3.3%. Our household income since 2011 has increased an average of 6% per annum. We continue to run huge fiscal surpluses.

There are many reasons for this, but one of the most important reason is the economic growth in China, which has really bolstered Hong Kong. Indeed, throughout Hong Kong’s history, our fate has been inextricably linked to Mainland China.

Indeed, the China factor is Hong Kong’s number one competitive advantage. Under “One Country, Two Systems,” we can enjoy the “one country” aspect as China’s economy continues to grow. At the same time, we maintain our way of life, including practicing our common law legal system under the “two systems”. Having the best of both worlds makes us unique compared with cities such as Singapore and Shanghai.

Second is the competitive advantage derived from its status as a cosmopolitan, international city. Hong Kong is more international than any other city in Asia. We have a substantial proportion of people who have been educated overseas, or have overseas links. These advantages make Hong Kong a “super connector” between China and the rest of the world.

Third is our competitive advantage of having the best service industry in Asia, including financial services, legal services, and services in health care and education. We are a center for tourism with world-class hotels and restaurants, offering a robust year-round calendar of entertainment and conference events. Hong Kong also has stunning natural scenery.

Our fourth competitive advantage is our easy access to information, capital and talent around the world. These factors together with our knowledge of China’s market provide a unique soil for innovation.

These four big competitive advantages place Hong Kong in a unique position to ride China’s wave of development. As China marches forward towards her vision 2049, her economy will continue to grow, the RMB will move toward greater convertibility, her standard of living will improve, and the country will require professional services of a high standard, all of which Hong Kong can provide. As super connector, Hong Kong can link the 13th Five-Year Plan and the “One Belt, One Road” strategy to a global audience. And finally, China’s effort to balance her own regional development will open up many new frontiers for Hong Kong entrepreneurs, particularly those with experience in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong.

The Asian regional economy will also continue to grow. Hong Kong, situated in the heart of Asia, can provide high-end services to the region, as we have done for decades, except now we can do more.

China’s current rise promises another surge of opportunities for Hong Kong, unavailable anywhere else, and not seen in history before. The prospect for Hong Kong’s future under “One Country, Two Systems” is bright.

Hong Kong is not without its challenges. The stagnation in our legislature and generally in our political system, the total lack of understanding of what’s going on in the mainland by many people, and the need for more proactive government involvement in a rapidly changing world, are all issues that need to be confronted. I am hopeful that, in the years to come, these issues can eventually be successfully tackled.

Embracing China: Our goal, our future

To conclude, I would like to say a few words to the people of Hong Kong, and in particular to the young people. Because it is the future we are talking about. It is your future we are talking about.

Over the past ear, I paid special attention to the voices of Hong Kong’s youth.

I know that you have many concerns about Hong Kong. You would like to see a more just and fair society, more affordable homes, a better education system that can equip you in a changing world, and, understandably, more opportunities for upward mobility. This is your wish, this is my wish, this is the wish of all of us, and it’s the direction that we should be moving in.

I am sure the majority of Hong Kong people want us to participate actively to support China’s rise, and to benefit from China’s rise. I believe many youth will think the same way. Yes, it is for us to take this on.

However, to do this effectively, we must understand China better, her history and her culture, her challenges and opportunities.

How would you get to know China better? To start with, I suggest you devote your time and effort to criss-cross China, to visit and engage people on the mainland, to understand their challenges and their aspirations, spend some time in schools on the mainland through exchange programs, take some post-graduate courses there, or intern in a business in China. In whatever form, a commitment of time and energy will be necessary.

Well equipped with your knowledge of China, you will be better prepared to take on whatever challenges or jobs or careers you may wish to take on, whether it is in China, Hong Kong or around the world. You are so lucky to be young at this time. I wish I am young. From my own experience, anything you do that will make Hong Kong and China better, will be that much more of a fulfilling life.

If you should undertake such an effort, I just want you to know, Our Hong Kong Foundation will be putting into place plans and programs to assist you along the way.

Thank you!