On the eve of the anniversary of the Occupy Movement, diplomats were asked to answer this question:
How do you see Hong Kong moving forward given the chain or events surrounding democratic reform in the past year?
This was the reply we received from Mr Vincent Piket, Head of Office of the European Union (EU) to Hong Kong and Macao.
Photo: Chris Lusher
Despite the unsuccessful attempt to reform the procedure to elect the chief executive earlier this year, the issue of political reform will inevitably reappear. Resuming the process will require a lot of good will, open and frank discussions and mutual efforts to seek common ground and build trust among all stakeholders. The European Union hopes this will happen soon. We believe that electing the chief executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage will strengthen Hong Kong’s governance and increase the legitimacy of the government. It will allow Hong Kong to secure its future as the vibrant and open region that is so highly valued by its partners and to address better its social challenges and meet its economic objectives.
Hong Kong’s agenda is not only about politics or electoral reform. Solutions have to be found in the near future to address problems such as housing, the rapidly ageing population, and the consequences of a widening wealth gap. Hong Kong’s GINI coefficient is the highest in Asia, and parts of society, especially young people, have an increasing sense of social exclusion. Some of these challenges are common in many parts of the world. I am certain that Hong Kong will find ways to address these issues if there is a concerted will to do so and to create a prosperous inclusive society.
Climate change and environmental issues are another common global challenge. Hong Kong is working on the greening of its economy. Further progress can be achieved by adopting sustainable solutions for waste management and energy efficiency measures. However, fundamental solutions to air and water pollution also require a joint approach within the Pearl River Delta. The EU experience is that the cross-border, region-wide approach is the most efficient, sustainable, cost-effective and business friendly way.
Finally, we hope that Hong Kong will continue to expand its role as a finance and trade hub for the Mainland as well as internationally. We also want to expand trade and investment links between Hong Kong and the EU.
Head of Office of the European Union (EU) to Hong Kong and Macao