HK has thrived in past 20 years, says Josephine Teo

Hong Kong has continued to thrive under the "one country, two systems" framework, and the city's ties with China have strengthened in the two decades since it returned to Chinese sovereignty, said Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo yesterday.

She cited how closer links to China have accelerated Hong Kong's transformation from a manufacturing economy to a service- based one, helped boost the city's re-export trade and secured its standing as one of the world's top ten trading ports.

China has also benefited from Hong Kong's unique status, said Mrs Teo at a reception by the Chinese Embassy in Singapore at Fullerton Bay Hotel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from British rule.

The city, with its extensive trade network and financial expertise, has played an important role in connecting mainland China with the rest of the world, she said.

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"Going forward, the further integration of Hong Kong with the mainland will spur new growth," said Mrs Teo, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Manpower.

Singapore has been a steadfast supporter of China's peaceful development and engagement of the region and the international community, she said.

The Republic has always supported the "one country, two systems" framework for Hong Kong, and will continue to do so, she said, adding that Singapore enjoys good ties with both mainland China and Hong Kong.

Comparisons are often drawn between Hong Kong and Singapore, which face similar long-term challenges such as an ageing population, Mrs Teo said. While they compete in many fields, they also share a very high level of mutual admiration, and learn continuously from one another. Singapore and Hong Kong will continue to explore partnerships where they can tap their different strengths, she added.

Mrs Teo also recalled how she and her husband strolled along Star Boulevard at Kowloon Harbour on the eve of the historic handover - a ritual they repeat each time they return to a city that remains a "city of lights, a city of life, and a city of hope" 20 years later.

"Throughout this unique journey, Hong Kong has held its head high as a thriving city, a vibrant economy and a resilient society," she said. "Through closer integration with the mainland, Hong Kong is in a stronger position to continue to thrive. These reasons alone give us cause to celebrate."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'HK has thrived in past 20 years, says Josephine Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe