Abstract : 2020 has been a memorable year for Hong Kong. The financial hub returned to long-awaited peace, fought waves of the COVID-19 outbreak, grappled with an economic recession, and kept its competitiveness brought by "one country, two systems."
HONG KONG, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) — 2020 has been a memorable year for Hong Kong. The financial hub returned to long-awaited peace, fought waves of the COVID-19 outbreak, grappled with an economic recession, and kept its competitiveness brought by “one country, two systems.”
The following are the stories of seven residents from different walks of life in Hong Kong and their keywords for 2020.
Fabrizio Goldoni, an Italian expatriate, chose “recovery” to describe Hong Kong in 2020.
The businessman who has lived here for 28 years said he was happy that law and order was finally restored after the national security law took effect at the end of June and that people can continue to live a peaceful life without the fear of violence.
Goldoni, 59, witnessed how Hong Kong descended into chaos since June 2019, with banks and shops vandalized and people beaten up by rioters. “If Hong Kong had continued to see riots, I would have left for sure. But as peace returned, now I can see a future for this city,” he said.
He believes both freedom and human rights are ensured under the national security law and he hopes Hong Kong can regain its glory as soon as possible.
From washing hands to wearing masks, Leung Fong-yuen has become accustomed to the inconvenience brought about by COVID-19. But what Leung, with 30 years of experience in the tourism industry, was deeply concerned about is the unprecedented job losses in the sector that is reeling from the ongoing epidemic and last year’s social disturbances.
“With almost no tourists, the whole industry is ‘frozen.’ I have never seen anything like that before,” Leung, president of the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Employees General Union, said.
While she managed to make ends meet by teaching Spanish, a lot more tour guides had no income at all and were forced to use their retirement savings to get by.
Tour guides were granted allowances under the government subsidy program, which, however, were far from enough. “I just hope the epidemic can end at an early date so that we can all have our jobs back,” Leung said.
As Hong Kong is still coping with the resurgence of COVID-19 at the end of the year, David Lam, a surgeon and former vice president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, said he is confident that Hong Kong can win the battle against the coronavirus.
When COVID-19 raged in summer, the frontline doctor worked shoulder to shoulder with mainland nucleic test professionals in a mass screening program. While Lam, along with thousands of Hong Kong doctors, nurses and medical students, collected nasal and throat swab specimens, mainland teams worked around the clock to get the test results as quickly as possible.
Through these concerted efforts, Hong Kong successfully reined in the third wave of the epidemic outbreak.
In the face of recent COVID-19 spikes, Lam suggested the government step up testing efforts and track confirmed cases with big data, and called on Hong Kong residents to keep social distancing to be responsible to both themselves and the society.
Lam said he was also heartened by the mainland’s support, which included a new makeshift hospital and vaccines.
“Don’t be too pessimistic. I believe we will win this battle,” he said.
Nicholas Muk, 29, a teacher at the Pui Kiu Middle School, saw 2020 as a year when he and his students are having an increasing awareness of national identity.
With the national security law put in place, people have started to understand more deeply that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China under “one country, two systems,” he said.
As some students lack knowledge about the mainland, Muk, using his experience, taught them about the rapid development of the country. When he was in college, he often visited mainland cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an, and volunteered to teach in a school in the mountainous area of Guangdong Province.
Muk has also made teaching materials about the national security law and shown them to his students in online classes.
“There has been some misunderstanding in society and I don’t want my students to be misled,” he said.
“We can finally get things done,” Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said, who described the HKSAR Legislative Council (LegCo) returning to normal as one of the symbolic events this year.
Quat, representing the information and technology sector, said the HKSAR LegCo had been plagued by filibusters and legislative violence since taking office in 2016.
Some opposition lawmakers wantonly politicized bills and spared no effort to postpone the legislative agenda, using such tactics as besieging the podium and hurling foul-smelling objects.
The decision of China’s top legislature on lawmaker qualifications helped restore legislative order, and the remaining LegCo members can now truly assume their responsibilities and address people’s concerns, Quat said.
“In a more efficient manner, we discuss relief measures for virus-hit sectors and people in need, question government proposals and put forward policy suggestions,” she said.
Quat expects a busy 2021 ahead and plans to push for improvement in areas from 5G and smart city to animal welfare and medical resources.
Despite the impact from COVID-19 and social unrest, economist Liang Haiming believes Hong Kong has retained its competitiveness and will continue to thrive as a global financial hub, in particular a fund-raising center favored by businesses and investors from around the world.
In the first 11 months, the Hong Kong exchange reported IPO fund-raising of 305 billion Hong Kong dollars (nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars) and forecast the best IPO performance since 2010 for the whole year.
Backed by enormous and still fast-growing mainland markets, Hong Kong still owns the unique advantages in bridging the mainland and the rest of the world, and its bold reforms over listing procedures also made it even more attractive as one of the top fund-raising markets, he said.
Liang expects more businesses will turn to Hong Kong in the future, such as tech firms in 5G and biotechnology.
As long as Hong Kong seizes the opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative and gives full play to its role as a super-connector, it will always survive and thrive in spite of external volatility, he said.
While COVID-19 curbed travel between Hong Kong and the mainland this year, the startup service platform set up by Louis Chen in Shenzhen remained in full swing and the young entrepreneur, 31, aims to help more Hong Kong young people pursue a career in other cities of the Greater Bay Area.
Chen’s business incubator is providing services to more than 20 startups eager to tap into the opportunities in what is probably China’s most vibrant economic region.
“We have PhD holders, artists and grassroots entrepreneurs using our platform and they all have ambitious plans and want to realize their dreams there,” Chen said. “I am not saying all Hong Kong young people should go to Shenzhen to set up businesses. I just want to show the possibilities and chances.”
Due to travel restrictions, Chen mostly stayed in Hong Kong this year but could still feel the energy from across the boundary.
“As Hong Kong’s economy is still sluggish, the mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area bring hope for Hong Kong’s revival and for its young people to find a broader stage,” Chen said. “I’m looking forward to going back to the mainland after the epidemic.” Enditem
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Source: Yearender: Describe 2020 in just one word — we asked 7 Hong Kong residents