Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said that China will further harness the advantages of Hong Kong and Macau as separate customs territories and free ports.

Li said investments from Hong Kong and Macau account for 70 per cent of China’s foreign investments on the mainland.

“Hong Kong and Macau are China’s Special Administrative Regions. And the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one, and the same, China. We have all along attached high importance to investments from these three regions,” he said.

Li Keqiang. Photo: Screenshot.

“We will further harness the advantages of Hong Kong and Macau as separate customs territories and free ports,” he added.

He also said China will create more favourable conditions for business people in Taiwan to invest on the mainland.

‘Sufficiently autonomous’

Hong Kong’s special status as a separate customs territory has become a matter of heated debate, as the US has warned that growing involvement in the city’s decision-making by the central government may negatively impact its economic future.

Under the 1992 United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, the US’ special policy towards the city – which is different from its policy towards China – is only justified if Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous.”

Mentions of Hong Kong as a separate customs territory by Li have become frequent recently. Last December, he praised Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam for maintaining steady economic growth as a “separate customs territory” when she visited Beijing on a duty visit.

United States Capitol. Photo: US Government.

Li said that investments from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can use the newly passed foreign investment law as a reference.

“Moreover, the institutional arrangements and actual practices, that have long been in place and proven effective, will go on and will not be affected. We hope that they will work to attract more investment from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan,” he said.

“The State Council will formulate related regulations and policy documents. In this process, we will listen closely to the views of our fellow Chinese from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to see their lawful rights and interests are duly protected.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.