Since its return to China 20 years ago, Hong Kong has been playing an increasingly important role in facilitating business cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, experts told Xinhua.[Special coverage]
Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, deputy chairwoman of Indonesia's commerce and industry chamber (KADIN), spoke highly of the role Hong Kong has been playing in promoting the development of the regional economy.
She said Hong Kong, with its sound relations with the Chinese mainland, can help ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, export their products to the Chinese mainland. "Indonesia views Hong Kong as a strategic port for exports to the Chinese mainland," she added.
For Indonesia and other ASEAN countries, relations with Hong Kong have always been mutually beneficial, Shinta said, noting that ASEAN is the second largest trading partner of Hong Kong after the Chinese mainland.
According to Hermawan Kertajaya, an Indonesian marketing guru who now is also an adviser for Indonesian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) minister, Hong Kong's role sits in its professionalism, sound legal certainty and business certainty.
"This is what businessmen mainly considered when they do business," Hermawan said.
Peter Wong, regional director for Southeast Asia and India of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said it is quite possible that some Chinese companies investing in ASEAN will meet difficulties in legal, labor, cultural and other fields, and Hong Kong, which has a long history of business relationship with ASEAN, can offer consultation and legal services for them.
"Generally, Hong Kong can be a bridge and link for China and ASEAN. Hong Kong will and is able to help Chinese companies penetrate into the ASEAN market," Wong said.
Total trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN reached 105.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, according to data released by the Hong Kong's trade and industry department.
Shinta, who had accompanied Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Hong Kong last month, said that Hong Kong will play an active role in building the Belt and Road Initiative as Chinese investors and their counterparts from countries along the Belt and Road will intensively use Hong Kong's expertise in settling their deals.
She said the Belt and Road Initiative will give full play to Hong Kong's advanced financial, logistic and distribution business.
"Dealing business brokered by Hong Kong is more convenient and comfortable for Chinese investors as Hong Kong does business with global standards," Shinta pointed out.
The international financial service offices in Hong Kong would also help facilitate China's bilateral trades with other countries as well as to accommodate the Belt and Road Initiative, she said.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
Bambang Suryono, an Indonesian scholar and president of the Jakarta-based think tank Nanyang ASEAN Foundation, said Hong Kong, as an international financial hub in the Asia Pacific besides New York and London, has a good connection with Southeast Asian countries.
He said Hong Kong's service, products and standards are highly accepted in ASEAN nations. Hong Kong's role as a connector and bridge is greatly strengthened as the economic relations between China and ASEAN become closer.
Bambang, who is in his 70s, said he is confident of Hong Kong's future development. "Hong Kong will definitely be even more prosperous on the 30th anniversary of its return to China in 2027. I wish I can still witness that."