Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative passed a major milestone on Thursday as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor inked an arrangement with the country's top economic planning body detailing Hong Kong-mainland cooperation under the global development plan.
The arrangement, signed by the Hong Kong SAR government and the National Development and Reform Commission, covers four areas in which Hong Kong has an edge: financing and investment; infrastructure and shipping; economics and trade; and dispute resolution services.
It also touches on people-to-people bonds and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The central government will provide cooperation and support in 26 ways.
Expressing her gratitude to the central government, Lam said in a statement that the measures listed in the arrangement would contribute to consolidation and upgrading of Hong Kong's role as an international financial, shipping and trade center.
She added that it would also bring more service demands to Hong Kong, and benefit more young people in the city as development opportunities arise.
Under the arrangement, the central government supports stakeholders in using Hong Kong as a financing platform for Belt and Road projects.
The arrangement also makes clear that the central government supports Hong Kong's role as a global offshore renminbi market, a professional service provider for infrastructure projects and a hub for international dispute resolution.
The central government's support for Hong Kong in developing green bonds and high-value-added shipping was also outlined.
Cooperation on information, highways, railways, ports and airports will be intensified; so will Hong Kong's involvement in the greater bay area, the agreement said.
In addition, both sides agreed to set up a conference system enabling regular and direct exchanges between the SAR government and the commission, the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office and other mainland authorities, to study matters related to Hong Kong's participation in the initiative.
Lam said the SAR government would organize the first joint meeting in 2018 as soon as possible. It will be held at least once a year, the agreement said.
In a statement issued after the signing ceremony, the commission said the arrangement accorded with the new outlook presented at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, as well as the vision outlined by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Hong Kong in July for the SAR's 20th anniversary.
The commission said the arrangement would play a positive role in helping Hong Kong make full use of its unique advantages, strengthen its own competitiveness and explore new areas for development.
Lam is on the second day of a three-day visit to Beijing. She is expected to meet Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other State leaders to brief them on Hong Kong's economic, social and political developments.