John Lee to tell HK’s good stories

October 13, 2023

Chief Executive John Lee

What a decade it's been. Brought to inspired life by President Xi Jinping, the Belt & Road has long belonged to the world. At last count, more than 150 countries and regions, and 30 international organisations have signed Belt & Road co-operation agreements and related documents.


Earlier this week, the central authorities published a white paper, presenting the progress of the Belt & Road Initiative since its inception in 2013.


The white paper spotlights the Belt & Road's remarkable rise from ideas to action, vision to reality. The initiative's central goal - common development and shared prosperity - is a compelling path to global well-being. A path to peace and prosperity, to openness, innovation and social progress.


No less important, it has laid the foundations for gainful people-to-people ties all over the world. And, of course, the Belt & Road continues to build on its ambitious goals and people-to-people ties.


I can attest to that. I made a visit to a number of countries along the Belt & Road, in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, together with high-level delegations from Hong Kong. In doing so, we welcomed the support of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states on Hong Kong's accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, which is the world's largest free trade agreement. We also expanded our ties with ASEAN and the Middle East, with the delegations' signing of a wide variety of MOUs and letters of intent with different countries.


From strength to strength

They appreciate Hong Kong's unique strengths under the "one country, two systems" principle, including our robust legal and regulatory framework, and our proactive participation in such national strategies as the Belt & Road Initiative. We are the only common law jurisdiction in our country. In aligning with international business rules and regulations, Hong Kong serves as an important conduit between the Mainland of China and the international community.


Hong Kong has, to date, signed nine mutual legal assistance arrangements with the Mainland on civil and commercial matters. This offers greater convenience and wider legal protection to Belt & Road investors, who choose Hong Kong and our law for their contracts and as a venue for dispute resolution.


Our country supports Hong Kong's rise as an international legal and dispute resolution services centre, one of eight key areas that the National 14th Five-Year Plan looks to Hong Kong to gain regional or international expertise in.


The International Organization for Mediation Preparatory Office was set up in Hong Kong in February. It's the first international organisation dedicated to providing mediation services for settling international disputes. And it will certainly contribute to international relations built on peace and harmony along the Belt & Road.


A sound legal system for negotiating international agreements is essential to building a rules-based business environment. The International Academy of the Belt & Road, which organises today's forum, has dedicated significant effort in promoting exactly that. The academy's work in enhancing the Belt & Road's dispute resolution mechanism, and its participation in the Belt & Road Cooperation & Partnership Model Agreement, have been instrumental in providing cross-boundary trade and investment improvements. For that, and a great deal more, I am very grateful.


Upcoming mission

On Monday, I will lead a Hong Kong delegation of some 70 senior government officials and high-profile institutional and business leaders to Beijing for the Third Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation.


The two-day event will be attended by government leaders and representatives from more than 130 countries and over 30 international organisations. Hong Kong is immensely honoured to be invited to address various sessions of the forum, signifying our most prominent participation yet in this high-powered event.


I look forward to telling the business and political heavyweights from all over the world about the good and real stories of Hong Kong, especially our vital role in the Belt & Road Initiative, in helping to build a global community with a rewarding and shared future for us all.


Chief Executive John Lee gave these remarks at the 6th "Belt & Road" Initiative International Forum and the "Belt & Road" Cooperation & Partnership Model Agreement Conference on October 13.

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