Address by Honorary Doctor of Laws
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I am delighted and privileged to speak today on behalf of Mr David Eldon , Professor Andrew Yao and Professor Zhang Junsheng on this memorable occasion, where the City University of Hong Kong has so graciously conferred upon us Honorary Doctorate Degrees.
Mr David Eldon is a very successful banker who has made a significant contribution to the development of the banking industry in Hong Kong and the Pan-Pacific Region. Besides his distinguished professional career, he has also devoted himself to various public services, from charitable organizations to other activities, which have major contribution to our community. He has certainly made a difference to the community of Hong Kong. Professor Yao is a world-renowned scientist and the very first Chinese to receive the prestigious Alan Turing Award, in recognition of his profound contributions to the theory of computation and communication complexity. Professor Yao is currently the William and Edna Macaleer Professor of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University. He is still contributing his intellectual inputs in the field of computer science. Professor Zhang is currently the Chancellor of Zhejiang University. Besides his outstanding contributions to the university education in China, he served as the Deputy Director of the New China News Agency (Hong Kong branch) between 1987 and 1998. In that position, he played a pivotal role in enhancing communication between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Today, I am indeed very honoured to be counted among these distinguished individuals to receive Honorary Doctorate Degrees from City University.
In early August, I was privileged to be nominated by the Chief Executive and appointed by the Central People's Government as the third Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. I am keenly aware of the heavy responsibilities bestowed on this position and Hong Kong people's expectation on me. From the very beginning, I have placed the revitalization of Hong Kong's economy as my foremost priority.
Today, I am very pleased to report that indeed, there has been a visible upswing in economic activity and sentiment over the past few months. The stock market is moving higher, and the turnover on average has doubled in the third quarter. Property transactions are picking up, and the number of homeowners in negative equity is declining. Visitor arrivals have rebounded sharply after the SARS outbreak, and the retail sales have risen for the first time in seven months. The unemployment rate and the deflation are easing off in tandem.
In the context of these encouraging signs, there are those who feel we could be well on our way to an economic revival. Yet, we must not be complacent. Economic restructuring takes both time and efforts. We are still faced with many challenges, both as an economy and as a society. The mismatch of our human capital has to be addressed. The policy-making process of our government has to be improved to take more into account the views of the public, and the aspirations of our community. The competitiveness of our businesses has to be enhanced.
Notwithstanding the challenges, I am confident that our future is bright. Our economic fundamentals remain strong. We are blessed with a natural hinterland that is among the fastest growing economies in the world. The huge Mainland market has played a key role in our economic development for the past two decades. I envisage that the further opening up of the Mainland will underpin our economic growth in the coming years.
The signing of CEPA provides the opportunity of a lifetime for Hong Kong manufacturers and service providers to gain preferential access to the huge Mainland market ahead of and beyond China's WTO commitments. CEPA also expands our businesses? horizon far beyond the physical boundary, and provides a launching pad for our entrepreneurs to benefit from the Mainland's rapid economic growth. Together with the renewed up-trend of the global economy, Hong Kong is poised to re-launch.
I am very pleased to see that a new corps of young people is graduating from this great university. They are marching towards the future with aspirations, vision and commitment to our community. We need these young people to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. We need these young people to challenge conventional thinking and known boundaries. We need them to bravely explore uncharted water. Hong Kong has long been famous for its "Can Do" spirit. I am confident that these leaders of tomorrow can live out this spirit and bring Hong Kong to a new height of prosperity and harmony.
Thank you very much.