Premier Li Keqiang delivers the Government Work Report at the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on March 5, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Hong Kong and Macao deputies to the nation’s top legislature on Sunday applauded Premier Li Keqiang’s remarks at the opening of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress, saying the central government’s full support for the two special administrative regions has significantly boosted the confidence of their residents.

The deputies pledged to devote their full efforts to contributing to the development of the SARs, as well as the motherland.

The deputies pledged to devote their full efforts to contributing to the development of the SARs, as well as the motherland.

The first session of the 14th NPC kicked off in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday morning, with Li delivering the last government work report of his term.

The premier vowed that the central government will continue to faithfully implement “one country, two systems” with a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong and support the SAR in growing its economy, improving residents' lives, and maintaining the city’s long-term prosperity and stability.

Stanley Ng Chau-pei — a Hong Kong deputy to the 14th NPC and president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions — said Li’s report, which is based on facts and reflects the philosophy of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, made special mention of Hong Kong and Macao affairs, offering the strongest support and reassurance to residents of the two SARs.

As Hong Kong opens a new chapter of marching from order to prosperity on the heels of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Ng urged the Hong Kong community to focus on cultivating a collective sense of national identity and actively taking responsibility for national development and rejuvenation.

Ma Fung-kwok, who heads the Hong Kong delegation of NPC deputies and is president of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Hong Kong Members Association, said the premier’s report is important for Hong Kong deputies in carrying out their duties, and he was deeply encouraged by the central government’s backing for the SAR.

Hong Kong solicitor and NPC deputy Kennedy Wong Ying-ho said Li’s speech is an accurate summary and objective analysis, with a goal based on the country’s actual situation.

The veteran entrepreneur and Standing Committee member of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce suggested that Hong Kong leverage its unique advantages as an international financial and trade center to help the nation attract more foreign investment.

Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, a Hong Kong deputy and the director of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, said he felt “wonderful” to be back in the Great Hall of the People physically to discharge his constitutional duties to serve the great nation under a great leadership that always puts the people’s interests first.

He took pride in the people’s collective achievements and “scorecard” in a year full of challenges caused by external factors and force majeure effects.

Henry Cai Yi, a Hong Kong deputy and chairman of the Hong Kong Island Federation, said Hong Kong should continue to strengthen communication and exchanges with the Chinese mainland and encourage more Hong Kong residents to study, work, invest, or start businesses in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, thus making a contribution to the country's development.

Prominent Hong Kong ophthalmologist Dennis Lam Shun-chiu, who’s also a Hong Kong NPC deputy, said Li’s report showed the country has seen extraordinary progress in its modernization process in the past five years, including its increasing economic power throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a high degree of perseverance and flexibility in battling the virus, and its success in eliminating poverty.

Macao SAR deputy to the NPC and president of the Macao Federation of Trade Unions Ho Sut-heng said the premier’s report pointed out this year’s work focus, putting livelihood issues as the bottom line of social policies, and boosting Macao residents’ confidence in their livelihood.

Lao Ngai-leong, another Macao SAR deputy to the NPC and business leader, said the nation has gone to great lengths in securing a record of achievements despite various challenges.

He said the various economic policies mentioned in Li’s report could revive the economy and boost investors’ confidence in the country.

More than 200 Hong Kong and Macao SAR deputies to the NPC, as well as members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, are attending the annual gatherings of the nation’s top legislative body and top political advisory body in the capital.