13th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Zheng Yanxiong, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, declared that the city is now poised to focus intensively on economic development and enhancing the livelihood of its residents. This announcement came during a ceremony at the Police College in Wong Chuk Hang, heralding a series of events leading up to Hong Kong’s National Security Education Day.

The passage of the domestic national security law under Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, commonly referred to as the “iron wall,” has been a transformative development for the Special Administrative Region (SAR). With this robust legal framework now in place, Zheng’s remarks underscore a critical shift from a period of stabilization to one of prosperity, all within the secure bounds of national sovereignty and developmental interests.

For years, Hong Kong has grappled with the challenges of maintaining security and public order, which have inevitably impacted its economic landscape. The implementation of the national security law marks a culmination of efforts to restore stability, paving the way for renewed economic focus. Zheng emphasised that with the city’s security firmly assured, resources and policies can now be devoted to economic revitalization and infrastructural advancement.

The significance of this shift cannot be understated. It represents a holistic approach to national security, one that encompasses not only political stability but also economic and social prosperity. This approach aligns with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision, first articulated in 2014, which advocates for comprehensive national security covering a broad spectrum of areas from politics to technology and beyond.

The National Security Education Day serves as more than a symbolic occasion; it is a reaffirmation of Hong Kong’s commitment to safeguarding its future against any form of instability. This year’s celebration is particularly notable, marking the 10th anniversary of President Xi’s holistic security strategy. Events like the open day at the Police College, which featured counter-terrorism demonstrations and community engagement activities, illustrate the practical aspects of this strategy. They also highlight the community’s role in maintaining the security framework that now underpins their everyday lives.

With the security question settled, Hong Kong’s administration under Chief Executive John Lee is now visibly pivoting towards aggressive economic development. Lee’s administration has been vocal about using the stability ensured by the national security law as a foundation to pursue economic enhancement and improve public welfare.

The city’s strategy includes leveraging its position as a global financial hub and enhancing its attractiveness to international investors. By reinforcing legal and political stability, Hong Kong can better assure investors and businesses of its viability as a safe and profitable environment. This is crucial in a time when global economic conditions remain uncertain and competitive.

The enactment of the national security law is perceived by many as a necessary step to align Hong Kong more closely with the mainland’s governance framework, ensuring a unified approach to security and political matters. This alignment is expected to facilitate smoother economic and cultural integration, which could bring about substantial benefits such as increased investment and tourism, and greater access to the vast mainland Chinese market.

In his speech, Zheng not only highlighted the security achievements but also laid out a vision for a thriving, dynamic Hong Kong that actively contributes to and benefits from its unique position as a part of China while retaining its distinctive advantages. This vision encompasses a broad range of developmental objectives, from technological innovation and green finance to becoming a regional arts and culture hub.

The “iron wall” of security is now seen not just as a shield but as a foundation stone for building a resilient and prosperous future. In this new chapter, Hong Kong is not merely recovering from past instabilities but is moving forward with a proactive, ambitious agenda that seeks to harness its full potential.