Full reopening an opportunity Hong Kong can’t miss The photo taken on February 3, 2023 shows the cross-boundary students passage at the Lo Wu Station of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) in Hong Kong, south China. /Xinhua

The development of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) got off to a solid start with the full resumption of cross-border travel with the Chinese mainland on Monday. The city has had a tough time in the past three years – shortly after the 2019 violence, it was caught in a three-year pandemic. The long-awaited full border reopening is an opportunity for Hong Kong to revive its economy and further engage with the plan of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).

As the Chinese mainland drops its restrictions on travel, Hong Kong will likely see a 7.6 percent boost to its gross domestic product, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The city, as an international financial hub, has been one of the favorite travel destinations among mainlanders. Of the 154 million outbound mainland travelers before the pandemic, 36 percent – as World Bank and Hong Kong Tourism Board statistics show – came to Hong Kong.

The influx of mainland tourists after the full border reopening is believed to be significant in stimulating Hong Kong’s tourism and spending. In January after China optimized its COVID-19 regulations, the city’s Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 51.2, according to the latest report from the S&P Global, the first expansion since last August.

“During the 7-day holiday, Hong Kong’s tourism and retail sectors showed an apparent rebound compared to two years ago, with more tourists seen in shopping malls and scenic spots,” the Global Times quoted Timothy Chui Ting-pong, director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, as saying.

Hong Kong is no longer the city that it was three years ago when it was embroiled in West-instigated violence, and the full reopening is an opportunity for the city to embrace for its new future. The Chinese central government has taken a slew of measures to ensure the smooth implementation of the “one country, two systems” and the stability of the city.

The enactment of the Hong Kong national security law, the reform of Hong Kong’s electoral system that established the essential election methodology for the Election Committee, the chief executive and Legislative Council, as well as the incorporation of the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” into the Communiqué of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC have paved the way for the new era of good governance in Hong Kong.

Against this backdrop, the resumption of the crossings between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong after three tough years of battling the pandemic means the city is ready for new economic growth. In addition, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), so Hong Kong government can make full use of the opportunity to interact with the BRI countries and regions, and engage with the country’s overall development strategy and the GBA plan for development.

However, it doesn’t mean no challenges lie ahead. Certain Western countries have never given up their attempts to intervene in China’s internal affairs and have been taking advantage of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang to contain the Chinese government. In this context, whether Hong Kong could seize the opportunity of the full reopening depends on its society.

After three tough years, Hong Kong people want peace and development. The city has been known as one of the world’s key financial, shipping and trade centers and a free port. The reopening is a window of opportunity. But still, unity is required for the city to take full use of this opportunity to revive itself as a multicultural metropolitan and to participate in international exchanges and increase its global footprint.

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