센터소개

leader's column

Things to Learn from and to Avoid in Hong Kong

Registered Date December 11, 2017 Read 407

I visited Hong Kong from November 6 to 10 with the invitation of the Hong Kong SAR Government under the “Sponsored Visitors Program (貴賓訪港計劃)”. This program began in early 1980s with the intent to make friends of Hong Kong by inviting the British MPs before the negotiation for the return of Hong Kong. The program was evaluated to have contributed to derive “the Sino-British Joint Declaration” in 1984, which allowed Hong Kong to maintain a high-level of self-governance, capitalism, and lifestyle for 50 years in the name of “One Nation, Two Systems”. Therefore, this program was determined to continue even after Hong Kong was returned to China and the opinion leaders from various countries are still invited to Hong Kong under this program.  Although the program’s slightly long schedule was somewhat burdensome for me, I managed to spare time to accept the invitation. I wanted to learn the secret of making Hong Kong ranking No.1 in the world for the past 22 years consecutively since 1995 in terms of the Index of Economic Freedom set by the US Heritage Foundation.
 
Before meeting with the Hong Kong Authorities, I had an opportunity to meet with representatives of Korean banks doing business in Hong Kong with the help of the Korean Consul for Finance and Economy. The common opinion of those representatives was that Korean expatriates can hardly accumulate expertise or form networks due to their headquarters’ HR policy to rotate the assignment every 3 years. They also said that a system to grant another opportunity to draw on past failures needs to be built.
 
The first meeting with the Hong Kong Authorities was the meeting with executives of the Development Bureau in charge of Hong Kong’s infrastructure planning and development including Lantau development plan. While listening to their development blueprints including re-development of the old international airport site, I was reminded of my memories of a junior economic bureaucrat as a team member of the taskforce formulating “the 4th 5-Year Economic Development Plan” in 1970s. Subsequently, I had a meeting with the Chair of Hong Kong’s Harborfront Commission and also visited the City Gallery. The common theme I learned from the meetings was a human-friendly development. It was an idea to ponder over the developments, which do not alienate people but focus on them and enhance their happiness. 
 
Currently, the Kowloon Peninsula east, which previously had an airport, is being developed to the 2nd Central Business District (“CBD2”) and it would be larger than the existing CBD upon completion. And the west area is being developed to the West Kowloon Cultural District.  Upon visiting the actual sites, those developments were also focused on the eco-friendly development with an emphasis on the environmental conservation. Thanks for the helicopter tour offered by the Hong Kong Government Flying Service, I could make a tour of not only the Kowloon Peninsula but also the border area of the mainland, which enabled me to understand the big picture of the development strategy for the entire Hong Kong. In addition, I got an unexpected idea for the Saemangeum Project in Korea for which I hold a position of Co-Chairman.  
 
To me, the most interesting points of this visit to Hong Kong was the “Rule of Law” I learned from the Department of Justice and the “Anti-Corruption” from the Independent Commission Against Corruption(ICAC). Hong Kong’s greatest strength, which cannot be emphasized enough, is the “Rule of Law” and “Integrity”. The Hong Kong Government is designing the City Plan based on a forecast that the population of 7.34 million as of 2017 will reach its peak in 2043 with 8.22 million and the current number of households of 2.51 million will reach its peak in 2046 with 2.97 million. If we learn one thing from Hong Kong, it should be the enhancement of predictability for the people and the creation of a transparent society without any corruption through the consistent enforcement of law.
 
When I was having lunch in Hong Kong with the East Asia Regional CEO of the Japanese Mizuho Financial Group, which recently opened a branch office of its security company in Seoul, I had this thought out of the blue: Where is the Korean finance, which used to dash to become the financial hub of the Northeast Asia 10 years ago, heading now?  At this point when only 30 years are left until the end of the “One Nation, Two Systems” Hong Kong, what can we learn from and avoid in Hong Kong to lure Asia regional headquarters of multinational corporations?
 
Lastly, I wonder what would be the way to encourage our government officials to work with self-confidence and pride like the Hong Kong Government officials.