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UPDATED: June 18, 2007 NO.25 JUN.21, 2007
A Decade to Remember
A closer look at what has changed and what has not, on the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China

There are also voices that claim Hong Kong is in danger of being marginalized. As the economy of the Chinese mainland booms, some worry that Hong Kong's status as an international finance, shipping and trade hub will be threatened by cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Chief Executive Tsang dismissed this fear. "I see no aspect of Hong Kong being in malicious competition with cities on the Chinese mainland. What we have is favorable cooperation," Tsang told Beijing Review. He pointed out that Hong Kong can bring experience to mainland cities and the fast developing mainland cities provide support for Hong Kong. "The complementarity between them is strong, and Hong Kong has the right ingredients to be a dominant financial center."

Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government Henry Tang said there were two principles in addressing these worries. Hong Kong should fortify its advantages in finance, services, shipping and tourism; meanwhile, the city should keep innovating.

Approximately 90 percent of employees in Hong Kong are in the service industry, the pride of the city. But some experts believe that the service industry alone cannot create fortune, and Hong Kong needs to perfect its economic structure and foster new economic growth points. "Hong Kong should have started its industrial upgrading as early as in the 1980s. But it lost its chance. Now Hong Kong must develop knowledge-based industry and science and technology," Professor Wong Yuk Shan, Vice President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, told Beijing Review.

However, science and technology need investment, and investment brings with it risks. Before 1997, government, business and industrial circles were not interested in investing in science and technology. "Sometimes, an 'active non-interference' policy can actually be an 'active non-support' one," said Professor Wong. According to him, the situation changed after 1997; if not for a series of unfortunate events, things would have been much better.

Nevertheless, some progress has been made under the support of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government. So far, five new government-funded R&D centers have commenced operations to undertake industry-oriented research. The research is believed to be crucial for upgrading the industry base of Hong Kong in the Pearl River Delta, so that it moves up the value chain. Hong Kong cannot attain greater development without integrating with the Pearl River Delta and further. Professor Wong said, "The development prospects of Hong Kong rely on the whole region."

This is also true with another Wong, the fish dealer. "I do some business with the Chinese mainland, and now with my improving Mandarin level, I can do better," he said.

"I was a Hong Konger before 1997. Now I am a Chinese with Hong Kong citizenship. I know I can seek consulate protection from Chinese embassies when traveling abroad," said Wong. "I am confident of the future of Hong Kong. So are my two sons." His sons are working in a consultation company and an advertising company respectively. Surely for the younger generation, the integration of Hong Kong with China's mainland will open up more opportunities.

Maisano has lived in Hong Kong for 25 years. "The second time [you step into a river], it is already a different river. Hong Kong keeps changing and that's what makes it interesting all the time," he said.

More precisely, a changing Hong Kong with accompanying stability and predictability is perhaps what has kept him from leaving. At least here's one thing he can be sure about: that bay will always be called the Victoria Bay.

(Reporting from Hong Kong)

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