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HK marks 20 years of achievements
THE 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on July 1 marks a significant point in the history of the city as it builds on its strengths and forges ahead to the future.
To celebrate the occasion, the HKSAR government has organised various events both in Hong Kong and in key cities abroad. According to official figures, more than 1,000 events and activities, including various types of exhibitions and festivals, are being organised in Hong Kong, Mainland China and around the world, including Singapore.
Among these was a visit by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor KC Chan, to Singapore in June to foster closer ties between the two cities.
During his visit, Prof Chan met Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon to exchange views on the economic outlook, developments in financial regulation and financial technologies in both Singapore and Hong Kong.
He also held a meeting with Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat to discuss matters of mutual concern, including challenges faced by the global economy, fiscal positions in both cities and international tax cooperation.
Prof Chan also visited the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and the Singapore Exchange, and met key personnel from the banking sector.
The highlight of Prof Chan's visit was officiating at the gala dinner organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Singapore in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR.
The event was also an opportunity to showcase how Hong Kong's culture and traditions are preserved and passed on. This ranged from food to artistic performances. A Hong Kong-style Poon Choi meal was prepared by chefs and students from the Chinese Culinary Institute of Hong Kong led by Hong Kong Michelin chef Albert Au and chef Nelson Chow, who is well-known for food and wine tasting.
The energetic and exciting local culture of Hong Kong was also demonstrated by some 20 young Hong Kong dancers through a street dance performance. Meanwhile, celebrated Hong Kong photographer Edward Stokes presented a telling, evocative portrait of the city's natural beauty, while a debut of a short video on Hong Kong's close relationship with Asean, produced by renowned director Clifton Ko, paid homage to Hong Kong's strong film tradition as well.
Speaking at the event, Prof Chan highlighted the fact that with the staunch support of the Central Government, together with the hard work of the Hong Kong people, the city had made significant progress in many aspects in the past two decades.
"Since 1997, Hong Kong has not only weathered challenges from a number of upheavals but grasped every opportunity to emerge as a stronger and more vibrant and resilient global hub of financial services and commerce, as Asia's world city," said Prof Chan.
In particular, Prof Chan highlighted how Hong Kong has continued to be ranked the world's freest economy for 23 consecutive years while the labour market has been broadly in a state of full employment over the past six years.
And despite suffering from setbacks such as the Asian financial crisis, the Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak and the global financial crisis in 2008, Hong Kong's GDP has increased by 81 per cent since 1997, or 60 per cent in per capita terms and fiscal reserves have more than doubled to reach HK$935.7 billion (S$166 billion) by end March, 2017.
Indeed, Hong Kong's progress over the past 20 years and the path it will take going forward are key themes of the 20th anniversary celebrations. This has been embodied in the anniversary theme "Together • Progress • Opportunity".
In his foreword introducing all the activities planned, Chief Executive CY Leung noted the success of the "one country, two systems" principle during that time.
"Since our return to the Motherland, the principles of 'one country, two systems', 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy have been successfully implemented in Hong Kong.
"With the staunch support of our country, the concerted efforts of all sectors of the Hong Kong community and the cooperation of the Mainland provinces and municipalities, Hong Kong has made good progress in its social and economic development. The 20th anniversary of our return to the Motherland is a significant milestone and it is time for us to consolidate the unique combined advantages of 'one country' and 'two systems' that Hong Kong enjoys," he added.
"Building on what we have achieved, we will work towards the further development of Hong Kong and make greater contribution to our country," Mr Leung concluded.
Meanwhile, expressing a hope to take regional cooperation to a higher level, Prof Chan said during his visit to Singapore that Hong Kong would like to conclude and sign the Free Trade Agreement with Asean within this year, so that businessmen and investors can benefit from the stronger ties between Hong Kong and Asean countries.
Among some of the other cultural events organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Singapore earlier this year were the theatrical production The Golden Cangue, directed by Ann Hui On-wah and produced by art entrepreneur Clifton Ko Chi-sum, held at the Esplanade Theatre; "HK Phil Tour 2017" orchestral performance by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra at the Esplanade Theatre; and the debut of the dance drama Danz Up 2.0 at the Drama Centre, National Library of Singapore.
Other events include a photography exhibition featuring the works of Lee Fook Chee, entitled Son of Singapore - Photographer of Hong Kong, which will run at The Arts House from Aug 3 to Sept 3. Mr Lee was born in Singapore and went to Hong Kong in 1947, where he captured the city in photographs during the 1950s.
Also held at The Arts House from July 21-27 are the late Dr Sun Chan's Chinese Character Artworks cum children's workshops "Joy to the Words" where children can enjoy guessing and learning the embedded Chinese words in the artworks.
And there's the installation art project Tian Tian Xiang Shang originally created by experimental art pioneer Danny Yung. Tian Tian, a cartoon created by Yung for adults and kids all around the globe, has inspired people to work hard and achieve their dreams. A giant three-dimensional figurine of Tian Tian in standing poses as well as that of him curiously pointing to the sky will be available at Raffles City between July 28 and Aug 21. All exhibitions are free. Members of the public are welcome to join and experience Hong Kong.