Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor delivers her fifth Policy Address at the Legislative Council, Hong Kong, Oct 6, 2021. (CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled during her widely awaited fifth Policy Address on Wednesday a major development plan to turn northern Hong Kong into a metropolis that could provide up to 926,000 homes while helping integrate further the SAR into national development.
In opening her address, Lam said the National Security Law and the improved electoral system of the HKSAR have ushered in a new era and it is time to strive ahead with renewed perseverance and plan for the future of Hong Kong.
“The promulgation and implementation of the National Security Law has provided a timely curb on the chaos in the city, while ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’ has been ensured under the improved electoral system of the HKSAR,” Lam said.
Lam proposed to develop the northern part of Hong Kong into a metropolitan area and international I&T hub “ideal for people to live, work and travel"
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“In this process, the central government has shown its firm commitment and stayed true to its original aspiration in the implementation of “one country, two systems’,” she added.
Improving 'one country, two systems'
To safeguard national security, Lam said Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung is drawing up "effective and pragmatic" proposals to “prevent those who are opposed to China and attempt to destabilize Hong Kong from taking advantage of the situation to mislead the public with ill intentions.”
She added that other issues that need to be addressed include combating fake news and safeguarding cyber security.
Lam said the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will work closely with the Electoral Affairs Commission to ensure that the two upcoming elections — the LegCo election and the Chief Executive election — are conducted in a fair, open and honest manner to fully implementing the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
Lam proposed to develop the northern part of Hong Kong into an international I&T hub “ideal for people to live, work and travel" under the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy.
“We should create more land resources for residential use and the development of industries. With an area of 300 square kilometers, the proposed metropolis covers from the west to the east the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Boundary Control Points Economic Belt, as well as the deeper hinterlands,” Lam said.
The Northern Metropolis covers two district administration areas including Yuen Long District and North District, with a total land area of about 300 square kilometers.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (left) delivers her fifth Policy Address at the Legislative Council, Hong Kong, Oct 6, 2021. (CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY)
She said the area is well-positioned to share the fruits of the integrated development of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and will better facilitate Hong Kong's integration into the overall development of the country.
On the other hand, the harbor metropolis supporting Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center will be expanded to include the reclaimed land of the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision.
“The two metropolises located in the north and south of Hong Kong will provide massive land and enhance the spatial layout of Hong Kong. These two metropolises, spearheading their respective economic engines and complementing each other, will drive the future development of Hong Kong,” Lam said.
READ MORE: Full text of the Chief Executive 2021 Policy Address
She said a number of development projects planned in the Northern Metropolis are estimated to provide about 350,000 residential units.
“An additional 600 hectares of land or so could be developed within the Northern Metropolis for residential and industry purposes, with an estimated provision of about 165,000 to 186,000 residential units,” Lam said.
“Upon the full development of the entire Northern Metropolis, a total of 905,000 to 926,000 residential units, including the existing 390,000 residential units in Yuen Long District and North District, will be available to accommodate a population of about 2.5 million," she added.
A man receives a copy of the Policy Address 2021 in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Oct 6, 2021. (RAYMOND CHAN / CHINA DAILY)
Increasing housing, land supply
Lam said the government has identified about 350 hectares of land to produce about 330,000 public housing units in the coming 10 years to meet the estimated public housing demand of around 301,000 units.
She said public housing production in the five-year tenure of the current-term government will reach 96,500 units, an increase of 30,000 units compared to the previous five-year period.
“The production of over 300,000 units in the ten years ahead will be back-loaded, with only one-third to be delivered within the first five years,” Lam said.
On private housing, Lam said the government will strive to secure approximately 170 hectares of land in the coming ten years, and make available to the market sites for the production of about 100,000 units through land sales or putting up railway property developments for tender.
“Together with the 165,000 to 186,000 units that can be built on the newly identified land under the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, the supply of housing units can go up to 565,000 to 686,000 units in the period of 10 to 15 years after 2031-32,” Lam said.
Residents queue up to receive a copy of the Policy Address 2021 in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Oct 6, 2021. (RAYMOND CHAN / CHINA DAILY)
Integrating into national development
Lam said Hong Kong will leverage the central government’s support to enhance its competitiveness as the eight international centers or hubs charted in the 14th Five-Year Plan to build a brighter future for Hong Kong.
To boost the city’s status as an international financial hub, Lam said government will step up efforts to support the Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited in establishing a listing regime for special purpose acquisition companies in Hong Kong "after consulting the market".
The government will also expand further channels for the two-way flow of cross- boundary renminbi funds and developing offshore RMB products and tools, including looking into specific measures to enhance demand for the issuance and trading of RMB securities and allow stocks traded via the southbound trading under Stock Connect to be denominated in RMB.
Lam said government will also support the HKEX to promote cooperation with the Guangzhou Futures Exchange in financial product development related to carbon emission trading, and assessing the feasibility of developing Hong Kong into a regional carbon trading center.
She noted that Hong Kong is seeking to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as soon as possible.
“In the context of ‘domestic circulation’ under the ‘dual circulation’ development pattern of our country, we will continuously seek to create more favorable conditions for Hong Kong enterprises to enter the mainland market under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement,” Lam said.
(GRAPHIC DESIGN BY ALEX TANG / CHINA DAILY)