On the occasion of the arrival of the Year of the Pig, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) organised a series of Chinese New Year receptions to celebrate the joyous festival and to update guests on the latest developments of Hong Kong. Thus far, receptions were held in seven European cities, namely Izmir (22 January), Dublin (1 February), The Hague (6 February), Milan (7 February), Paris (11 February), Luxembourg (13 February) and Brussels (19 February).
Officiating at these Chinese New Year receptions, the Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union, Ms Shirley Lam, highlighted the successful implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle which protects Hong Kong's fundamental strengths, the high degree of autonomy and the freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong has braved many challenges in the past and emerged even stronger than before each time. The magic that has enabled us to do so is the continuous openness of our society that allows free flow of people, information, capital and goods in and out of Hong Kong," Ms Lam said.
"In 2018 we have seen a 6.4% increase in the number of Mainland and overseas companies setting up in Hong Kong – the total number has now reached almost 9,000, and 17% of them use Hong Kong as their regional headquarters or offices. Hong Kong's rule of law and business-friendly environment provide the greatest certainty to do business. In fact, the Heritage Foundation has just named Hong Kong as the freest economy in the world for 25 years in a row," Ms Lam continued.
Noting that more than 80,000 foreign professionals are working in Hong Kong, Mrs Lam added that Hong Kong has a big pool of international talents who come with the investments. Yet, Hong Kong wants to see even more talents to come to Hong Kong. She also emphasized that in the coming years, Hong Kong will continue to boost its innovation and technology sector, and it stands to play an important role in two national strategies of Mainland China.
"I am sure our services will be indispensable for foreign participants in the Belt and Road projects," Ms Lam said, referring to Hong Kong's financial and professional services, deep debt and equity capital markets, and high degree of integration to the world economy, as well as its role as an international arbitration centre. Hong Kong was also expected to be the international finance, navigation and trade centre, as well as a transport hub for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development.
The latest Chinese New Year reception was held in Brussels on 19 February. Addressing guests of honour including European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Mr Miguel Arias Cañete, as well as over 350 government officials and representatives of business sectors, Ms Lam said Hong Kong and Belgium are close business and trading partners. Belgian companies have their presence in Hong Kong in various sectors, from banking and asset management, environmental technology to manufacturing and logistics. She welcomes more Belgium companies, big and small, as well as the adventurous Belgium young entrepreneurs to come to Hong Kong to find out the abundant opportunities offered by the city.
HKETO, Brussels has seized the opportunity to provide a platform for Hong Kong young musical talents and promote Hong Kong as a culture and artistic hub, by inviting the CY Leo Electronic Trio to perform at the Chinese New Year receptions in The Hague, Paris and Brussels.
In the coming weeks HKETO, Brussels will continue its series of Chinese New Year receptions and events in other European cities, including Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Limassol.