The Policy Address 2000

B. Reforms to Continue, Priorities Set

16. The changes in our public awareness that I have just mentioned are a manifestation of the evolution of Hong Kong society. Hong Kong has made rapid economic and social progress in many areas over the past three years, which are propelling us towards our long-term vision of Hong Kong becoming a major city of China and the most cosmopolitan city in Asia. A city that is not only the most attractive business base in Asia, but an ideal place in which to live and work.

17. In realising this vision, we have planned a series of reforms as well as introduced a number of initiatives that will benefit the community as a whole. The Asian financial crisis highlighted the structural weaknesses in our economy that needed to be corrected. Reforms have been put in place to enhance our competitiveness, to tap the enormous opportunities brought about by globalisation and the knowledge-based economy, and to promote the long-term development of Hong Kong. Some of the problems we have encountered did not happen overnight. In the decade or so before reunification, there were problems which could have been addressed, but were shelved because they might have been too controversial or involved arrangements that straddled 1997. At the same time, other major cities in the region such as Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai were embarking on their own significant reform programmes. Hong Kong could not stand still, we had to reform in order to keep pace with the changing global circumstances. And that is precisely what we have been doing.

18. In addition to promoting innovation, technology and environmental protection, we have introduced reforms and initiatives in five other important areas - finance, housing, care for the elderly, municipal services and the civil service. These reforms and initiatives have produced positive results.

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