Greater Bay Area Conference
Greater Bay Area Conference – Embracing New Opportunities: Connecting GBA with RCEP
Welcome Remarks by Eva Cheng
(30 November 2021, Hong Kong) The honourable Mr CY Leung, Mr Ray Zhou, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, good morning and a very warm welcome to all of you!
On behalf of the Hong Kong Coalition, let me first say what a great pleasure it is to join hands with China Daily in organizing today’s Greater Bay Area Conference. There’s a cliché “We all live in interesting times!”. But for our generation, I think it’s going to be more than just interesting. If we know how to explore and embrace new opportunities through connecting GBA with RCEP, we will all be living in very exciting time.
The theme of our conference today is most timely. RCEP is the world’s single largest free trade agreement. GBA is China’s most powerful economic growth engine. Our theme is about connecting the two. It is about integrating the “largest” with the “most powerful”. Integration is the key word.
Talking about integration, RCEP has fostered regional market integration among 15 of Asia’s biggest economies and markets. And GBA has also fostered integration among 11 key cities that collectively form the most vibrant bay area in South China.
Meantime, Hong Kong, as a major metropolis, has always been smart about integration. Many of us could recall how Hong Kong was quick in grasping opportunity when China pursued its Open Door Policy more than 4 decades ago. Hong Kong businessmen were the first to set up manufacturing base in the mainland. At heyday, some 60,000 Hong Kong manufacturers hired more than 11 million workers in South China to produce for the world.
Earlier this year, we were glad to see that for the first time, China’s National 14th Five-Year Plan mentioned Hong Kong’s “integrated development” in its text. That would certainly open another new chapter in the history of Hong Kong.
Ladies & Gentlemen, NOW is the time for humanity to work closer together than ever before. The threat of de-globalisation is real, and the forces of de-coupling brought about by geopolitics is haunting. Now is the time to connect, to harmonize, to integrate, to fight Covid-19, to fight climate change, to grow and prosper together and be strong.
I offer that the best place to start doing all this is close to home AND with neighbours who know and understand. This is why connecting GBA with RCEP is of particular significance. And for those who’re willing to embrace the new opportunities that come along through such connection, the BEST is yet to come!
We have a great line up of speakers to share their insights and experiences. I hope you will find today’s Conference a fruitful and enjoyable one! Thank you.