香港新浪網 MySinaBlog
劉廼強 | 29th May 2009 | SCMP | (14 Reads)

Until now, very few people have taken much notice of the Summary Reform and Development Plan for the Greater Pearl River Region since it was made public in December. This is an important official document, formally approved by the State Council, and lays out the development blueprint for Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in the region until 2020.

Many Hong Kong people still perceive their city to be an island in the South China Sea, and refuse to become another Chinese metropolis. This is, of course, wishful thinking: the direction of Hong Kong's economic development and its positioning in this region is fixed into the regional economy of the nine plus two cities.

With the onset of the global financial crisis, this might even be our salvation, at least for the short term. We can consider ourselves lucky: the other East Asian tigers - Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore - all suffered double-digit negative growth in the first quarter of the year. Hong Kong's gross domestic product fell by only 7.8 per cent in the same period. Having been an advocate of regional economic integration for the past two decades, I am pleased with this development blueprint. We must adopt a wider vision, with regional and national development in mind, or risk losing out on a share of the windfall. Should that happen, Hong Kong would become an insignificant second-class Chinese city. Of course, we don't want that to happen.

Now that the general direction is set, I no longer worry about regional economic integration. My new fear is that Hong Kong will focus too much on mainland opportunities to the point of losing its competitive advantage in the region and in the country. By then, we would have lost our vitality and our unique contribution to regional and national development. There would be no winners if this were to happen.

Hong Kong has always been, and will continue to be, an open city with a cosmopolitan outlook and international connections. Sad to say, for the past two decades, our local citizens have become far too inward-looking. We are not interested in anything that happens outside Hong Kong. In contrast, if you open any newspaper in Singapore on any day, you will invariably find one or two news items about Hong Kong. But, typically, reports on Singapore, Hong Kong's major economic rival, feature maybe less than once a month in the local press, most of it infotainment. Singaporeans keep a close watch on Hong Kong and benchmark every move we make. No wonder it eclipses Hong Kong in many areas.

In the aftermath of the global downturn, China will soon surpass Japan as the second leading economy in the world. It will be the growth engine for East Asia and for the world. China urgently needs a major international gateway now, not a decade later. Despite all the hoopla and policy incentives, Shanghai is clearly not up to it at the moment, and Hong Kong is perhaps the only choice. Given its historical relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Hong Kong is arguably even the preferred gateway.

We have to break away from our navel gazing and regain our presence in the international arena. This is the rationale behind one country, two systems, and the Basic Law has specifically made provisions for that. Clearly, the central government does not want Hong Kong to become just another Chinese city either, because this would do nobody any good.

The opportunities are there, but it is up to us to seize them. The authorities in Beijing and Guangzhou will be more than happy to see us taking up the role as the country's economic gateway to Southeast Asia, and will do everything to assist us in this direction. Quality employment and high growth should not be a problem for Hong Kong.


劉廼強 | 26th May 2009 | 信報 | (29 Reads)

大家大概還記得,我在這裏談香港經濟轉型,已經談了不知多少年和多少次,但政府仍然沉迷在「四大支柱」當中。最近因為金融海嘯,政府一下子發覺這四根柱子都已經被蛀得七七八八,眼看再也撑不下去,於是從以往的施政報告中拼湊了「六大產業」。產業還未存在,如何能稱為「大」?所以還是溫家寶提出香港要找尋「新增長點」較實在,甚至比「轉型」還直接易明。

粵港應建綠色生活圈

這「六大產業」,基本上是拍腦袋的產物,所以溫總「思考了一下」,也提出了另外六個「新的經濟增長點」。最近港深合作論壇,又提了「五大中心」。由此可見,哪個產業是香港經濟未來的新增長點,需要詳細論證,而非目前那樣,政府拍腦袋定了調之後,再找專家學者作「挺策」,建議如何把它做好。

其次,「中心」也好,「產業」也好,「增長點」也好,不在於數量多少,網上已有論者指出:「深港五個中心…實現的可能性比上海兩個中心還要小」。「六大產業」如在董建華時代提出,馬上便會被人罵「假大空」的了。

說到底,關鍵是我們是憑什麼標準來尋找新增長點?很簡單,我們如果撇開了《珠三角規劃綱要》,另起爐灶的話,那是死路一條。因此,我們可以把範圍收窄:香港有什麼條件可以發展一些新產業,落實《綱要》,幫助珠三角成為國家發展的「排頭兵」?

答案似乎只有一個,而且早已存在,只是主事者看來誠意不足,所以捉到鹿也不知如何脫角罷了。珠三角單憑某些產業的發展,根本不可能脫穎而出,成為國家發展的「排頭兵」。汪洋挖空心思搞什麼「騰籠換鳥」、「轉型升級」,都絕對不可能達到這目標。但是粵港全力合作,成功打造「綠色大珠三角地區優質生活圈」的話,試問天下誰能敵?那不就是排頭兵了嗎?斯人就在燈火闌珊處。

「綠色優質生活圈」是港方提出的,得到粵方積極回應,並且把它放進《綱要》中,正式得到中央的祝福。按道理,港方應該有風駛?,快馬加鞭,全速把綠色優質生活圈落實,並從此產生一系列的新增長點來。很可惜,我們這個特區政府至今仍是只說不練;如果粵港繼續一年只開它一次半次會,什麼圈都是空談,當中更絕不可能產生什麼新增長點。

珠三角人均GDP今年會達六萬五千元人民幣,已是內地之冠。加上香港更高的二萬八千美元的人均GDP,肯定是全國之冠,超過台灣,並且遠遠拋離長三角,有足夠的財力去搞好環境。另一方面,這裏污染嚴重,酸雨也是全國之冠;東莞已經被國務院定為落實科學發展觀的試點,治理環境已經燃在眉睫。粵港雙方全力在綠色優質生活圈攜手尋求突破,有能力做出國家級、甚至是世界級的模範。整治環境,健康宜居,也是這個地區的人民共同希望,這方面的合作,是有強大民意基礎的。

綠色優質生活圈還不只是一個環保的概念;「優質生活」也者,就是提高人民的快樂和福祉。從這裏,更可以引伸很多的新產業,新增長點。於國家最富裕的地區,搞好綠色優質生活圈,足為全國人民作出示範,各地政府所效法,同時更是對內外宣傳科學發展觀的一個樣板。當中的機遇,說上十天十夜也說不完。

簡單和粗略地檢視一下,區域性的環保是最顯而易見的新增長點。同樣道理,區域性的教育、醫療服務也很順理成章。而這些都是香港有一定的基礎和優勢,可以大力發展的。當中的關鍵詞是「區域性」,粵港雙方都不要把對方見外,不過分計較各自的本位利益,而把大珠三角視為一個實質性的共同體,打大算盤,聯合打造新嶺南文化。

拓新增長點關鍵在人才

比方說,整個珠三角都缺大學,缺自生的人才,香港的大學不單可以吸收內地學生,同時更可與區內大學作更緊密的合作,合辦課程、加強交流、學分互認、聯合研究等等;在大學生培育到科研的水平,從質和量協助提升。這樣一來,香港大可減輕宿位等壓力,但其地位和影響力卻大大提升,更可善用資源投放於我們的核心能力範圍中,把大學搞得更好。

而區內說廣東話的大學畢業生,包括香港的在內,則熟悉區內情況,並且在區內有一定的關係網絡,有助人才交流,人盡其才。尤其是香港訓練的理工科人才,更不愁學非所用。

更重要的是,要發展高增值的新增長點,大家都會同意溫家寶的說法:關鍵是人才。我們除了大量生產人才,吸引人才之外,還要留住人才。綠色優質生活圈打造成功,香港空氣清新、青山綠水、生活舒適、法制完備、服務周到、人盡其才,高級人才便會願意來香港發展,並且願意留下來。如果全國的影視製作人員都集中在香港,香港很自然就是國家級的影視製作中心。所以成功打造綠色優質生活圈,可以說是發展其他所有新增長點的必要條件。

要發展新產業、新增長點,政府的角色是關鍵。新也者,就是前所未有,或者只具雛形。處於這形態當中,市場訊息微弱而混亂,是標準的市場失效狀態。世界各地近年的經驗都證明,如政府不創造某些條件,新產業是無從產生的。

在上世界六十年代,於崇尚無為而治(laissez-faire)的財政司郭伯偉(John Cowperthwaite)任內,港英政府一口氣成立了今天的貿易發展局、生產力發展局、旅遊發展局、出口信用保險局,並在港外廣設辦事處作推廣,才造就往後數十年的經濟格局和持續繁榮。香港今天喊什麼「小政府,大市場」,只是自欺欺人的不作為藉口而已。

產業數量多難聚焦

政府第一件要做的事,就是大力宣傳和落實綠色優質生活圈,凝聚和鞏固市民應對形勢變化的共識;與此同時,政府要從綠色優質生活圈的要求出發,並且以對香港整體經濟的拉動力為標準作論證,挑一個、兩個,最多是三個產業,加大投入,政策傾斜,務求它能於短期之內,達到一定的規模,可持續發展成為經濟未來增長點。

請注意,高增值、高拉動力的就業,直接僱用一個人能間接養好幾個人;因此,新增長點的選擇不在於直接就業人數,而在於就業質素。而產業數量絕對不能多,這樣才能把資源和政策聚焦。飯只能一口一口的吃,嚥了上一口,才吃下一口不遲,急也無用。同時搞六個中心,最後恐怕連一個都搞不成。而說了綠色優質生活圈半年多,卻連宣傳都不做,又忙着找其他新增長點,則又是另外一回事了。綠色優質生活圈不會從天上掉下來的,整天到晚喊找尋新產業,捨本逐末,徒費功夫而已。

後記:本文在構思期間,於上周末理工大學中國商業中心舉辦的「綠色大珠三角地區優質生活研討會」中,得到科技大學海岸與大氣研究中心主任劉啟漢博士的啟發,並採用了他的一些觀點,特此聲明及致謝。


劉廼強 | 19th May 2009 | 信報 | (20 Reads)

近日經濟消息一片利好,美國銀行系統全部過關,於是連股神都唱好,說經濟已經到底了。股市攀升不在話下,連帶香港的股市、樓市,也出現「小陽春」。還是專業的《華爾街日報》作者一針見血的稱之為「老襯市」(suckersrally)。我向來不預測股市,所以到此為止。

美經濟好轉一笑置之

我只想指出,美國經濟,絕不可能這麼快便走出低谷。上世紀三十年代的大蕭條,走了整整十年,要不是碰上二戰,還不能結束回頭。這回美國底氣比上次差,受傷比上次重,情況最接近八十年代初的日本。日本經濟低迷了二十多年,至今還未見起色。美國和歐洲今天的病,右派貨幣理論的「直升機灑鈔票」,全球灑了幾萬個億,還是軟趴趴的。

至於凱恩斯經濟,則早已被批鬥至體無完膚,藥石亂投,唯一的效果只可能是滯脹而已。今後十年,美國官方預計,每年都有數千億美元的財政赤字,不說別的,光是還利息,和回購到期的債券等債務支出,就肯定吃不消,到時不靠長期通脹把舊債貶值,根本就還不了。現有的西方經濟理論都不能有效起沉痾【註一】;誰對你說美國經濟好轉,你一笑置之好了。歐洲亦如是。

西方社會被逼由奢入儉,加上景氣東移,以中國為首的亞洲經濟地位上升,影響所及,在未來的十年,我們許多基本假設、理念、行為、習慣,都會大大改變。在這段期間,人口、資源和環境,依然定了發展的基調。

人口方面,歐洲人口老化明顯;日本不但老化,而且有總體減少的走向。美國一向靠大量吸收移民維持人口年輕,但也難逃這命運,到二○二○年,有五分一人口在六十歲以上【註二】,發達國家因而全部傾向因循保守。印度則開始進入「人口紅利期」,非洲人口仍然年輕和增長。但是他們生不逢辰,亥時才出世,再難有中國過去二十年全世界都是市場的大機遇。

由於今天世界人口太多,已稍超地球承載極限,還在增長,資源短缺會持續,其中水和糧食最為迫切。這主要制約貧窮國家的政治和社會的穩定和發展。不看別的,只看近年不少國家開始紛紛在外國租地種糧,便知煩惱不遠。

富國缺廉價無污能源

富國不愁糧食,但缺廉價和無污染的能源。資源的爭奪,從來都是戰爭的根源,未來十年,一定烽煙處處。加上西方國家除了靠武力超強之外,再難找出解除經濟困境的道路,發動大小戰爭的可能性,與日俱增。

西方國家污染了地球數百年,獨享高質量的生活方式,並在重重自我保護底下,以高環保標準要求窮國,事實上為第三世界國家的經濟發展築起障礙。老人富國訂下這種不平等遊戲規則,在餅愈做愈大,人人都有機會多分一點時,矛盾還不突顯;在未來這大餅收縮的時期,全球社會不均,勢必受到年青窮國的挑戰。

基於以上分析,未來十年,世界一定不會安寧。君不見在經濟不景當中,各國什麼都減,只有軍費不減。我早已在此提醒,我國是否還能假設「和平與發展,是當今世界潮流」?

在這樣的環境中,過分依靠外貿和境外資源,既不現實,同時因為要保護境外生產基地和運輸線,也必然被迫走上霸權主義道路。去年底G20領袖信誓旦旦要防止保護主義,至今不到半年,當中已有十七個國家採取了不同的保護主義措施!

當今只有中國有多年下來的積累,和人數不少的有能力消費者,它周邊就是世界六成的人口,並且是十年內經濟發展的熱點。有此難得條件,退則可以關起門來成一統,起動內需就能促進未來十年持續快速增長;進則在自己與周邊三十多億人口之間做買賣,絕對不愁市場。

但說到底,中國和周邊人多,消耗的資源也多,或進或退,境外地大人少地區的資源,也不能不參與開發,這是中國發展到今天難以逃避的宿命。你死我活,困獸猶鬥,美歐如是,中國亦不能不如是。中國軍事力量的擴充,已經引起不少國家的疑慮,但這是當前地球承載超額、資源短缺、經濟收縮、爭奪激烈的必要自保措施。我們主觀要求和平發展,但環境不容許的話,必要時為求繼續發展,不和平也沒辦法。

亂世當中堅固堡壘

我冷眼觀察,看來,戰爭的可能性提高,就是未來十年全球性的嚴重困境。人口、資源、環境的問題,需要全人類極高的集體智慧,方能安全解決。但是這一可能性甚微,退而求其次,我們只能追求避免全人類集體滅亡,最起碼我們能自保,並把損失降而最低。這是鐵一般的殘酷現實,我們絕對不可能一廂情願的希望和平。

孫子有云:「無恃敵之不來,恃吾有以待之;無恃敵之不攻,恃吾有所不可攻也。」只有我們拋棄天真的鄉愿思想,保持足夠的防禦和阻嚇能力;只有我們在亂世當中仍能在堅固的堡壘中維持生存,才能享受和平,才能免於淘汰。

危的另一面就是機:只要我們能把堡壘鞏固,便能把周邊建設為和平、穩定、持續發展的綠洲。因此我不是鼓吹《中國不高興》的「光榮的孤立」,而是於紛亂之中尋求局部和平與發展。彼消此長,十年之後,中國自然就走在世界的前列;歐盟、美國、中國領導的東亞,鼎足而三。

問題是到時中國代表什麼?《中國不高興》提出「除暴安良」的目標,使我幾疑自己在看《水滸傳》。這一提法太「山寨」味了,中國只須繼續堅持和平與發展,就已很足夠,而且也對全球正義人士有足夠的吸引力,和對想藉武力去脫離困境的美歐兩大集團有強烈的對比。中國人說的話算數,因此又何必再提其他新目標?

決不是盲目反美歐

我們舉國上下要以實際行動,以身作則,證明中國代表着上升的進步力量,而美歐的老朽反動本色,亦會因而原形畢露。我知道我這樣說,一定有一些自命為自由主義者罵我是「義和團」。不,我決不是盲目反美歐的民族主義者。

如果美歐都擁抱和平與發展,那麼大家攜手構建一個更美好的新世界,那是最好不過的事情,我是舉腳贊成的。退而求其次,我們仍要大力爭取美歐內部愛好和平發展,反對以強凌弱、武力爭奪的力量,使形勢不斷向和平與發展這個共贏的目標發展。

和平與與發展並非中國什麼泡出來自欺欺人的理想,或者空想。它之所以持續三十年而不變,是因為實踐證明這是中國復興的基礎,和復興的道路。而除此之外,再沒有其他更好的道路。

因此,和平與發展不光是現實的需要,同時更是可見的未來,中國唯一的出路。展望未來十年,儘管外圍環境改變了,基礎也有所動搖,我們一方面需要對不和平的發展有所準備,另一方面,則仍然要堅持和平與發展。只有這樣,中國才能掌握主動,化危為機。

註一:王小強:「百年一遇」的繁榮與危機—再論「加快轉變經濟發展方式」,對國際左右派的理論都有批判。

註二:詳見http://esa.un.org/unpp/p2k0data.asp


劉廼強 | 15th May 2009 | SCMP | (13 Reads)

One of the most talked-about subjects in town of late has been: does Hong Kong have a future? I find this fascinating because people suddenly care about their future here. The future is an entirely new subject in Hong Kong; before the handover, the ruling British lived in a borrowed place, on borrowed time, and they only cared about Hong Kong's future as 1997 crept closer and they wanted to stay.

During the next decade, the question of Hong Kong's future was directly translated into: Is there life after the handover? The expat community was quite pessimistic, as evidenced by the mass exodus and the Death of Hong Kong, which was forecast by Fortune magazine.

Some locals were affected by the pessimistic mood and started migrating in the 1990s, only to return en masse later. For the majority of us who stayed, we enjoyed a terrific time - for a while - as the value of our assets rose by the day.

As long as we were the centre of the universe, we had no need to worry about our future. That position has been greatly eroded now, but Hong Kong is still decades ahead of Shanghai, our only rival in sight. At least, that is what we think.

Despite our grumbles, deep in our hearts we know that, as long as Daddy loves us, we have nothing to fear.

The crunch came when Premier Wen Jiabao announced that Shanghai was destined to be China's international financial centre, and later warned Hong Kong that, if it did not move forwards, it would lose its lead. We are on our own now, with no special favours in the future. Suddenly, the roof has fallen in; Daddy has thrown us into open competition. The future has suddenly become a problem.

The consensus now is that Shanghai will surely overtake us in less than a decade as the international financial centre of the country, and that will be the end of Hong Kong as the Pearl of the Orient.

This was the fate suffered by Yokohama in Japan. It started off as the most important port, handling half the country's trade, but was soon eclipsed by Tokyo.

Closer to home, Quanzhou , in Fujian province , was one of world's major trading ports until as late as the 14th century, but look at it now. This may well be the fate of Hong Kong if we do not strive to maintain our current position.

It is pathetic to see a confident metropolitan city suddenly shattered under a wave of pessimism. This is especially so when it is evident that the whole community, starting with our government, lawmakers, opinion leaders and media, all maintain a conspicuous silence and a resigned attitude. This is more than denial, it is a grudging acceptance of fate. We are doomed and there is nothing we can do about it.

Should this sinking-ship atmosphere continue, some people will just jump ship. They will leave Hong Kong but, this time, instead of migrating to industrialised English-speaking countries, many will choose to head north, where opportunities still abound. This will start a vicious cycle to accelerate and fulfil the consensus forecast of Hong Kong's downfall.

Fortunately, our young people refuse to give up without a fight because, for them, Hong Kong is no longer a transient money-making vehicle; it is home. I was delighted to read a recently advertised declaration by youngsters urging us to participate in making Hong Kong better.

They are not alone; there are many others like me, who might not share exactly the same vision, but who all see Hong Kong as our home. To us, it is irrelevant whether the city is China's only international financial centre, and we will not desert Hong Kong when it faces challenges. While every one of us is still standing, Hong Kong will have a future. Nobody can ever write us off.


劉廼強 | 15th May 2009 | SCMP | (20 Reads)

One of the most talked-about subjects in town of late has been: does Hong Kong have a future? I find this fascinating because people suddenly care about their future here. The future is an entirely new subject in Hong Kong; before the handover, the ruling British lived in a borrowed place, on borrowed time, and they only cared about Hong Kong's future as 1997 crept closer and they wanted to stay.

During the next decade, the question of Hong Kong's future was directly translated into: Is there life after the handover? The expat community was quite pessimistic, as evidenced by the mass exodus and the Death of Hong Kong, which was forecast by Fortune magazine.

Some locals were affected by the pessimistic mood and started migrating in the 1990s, only to return en masse later. For the majority of us who stayed, we enjoyed a terrific time - for a while - as the value of our assets rose by the day.

As long as we were the centre of the universe, we had no need to worry about our future. That position has been greatly eroded now, but Hong Kong is still decades ahead of Shanghai, our only rival in sight. At least, that is what we think.

Despite our grumbles, deep in our hearts we know that, as long as Daddy loves us, we have nothing to fear.

The crunch came when Premier Wen Jiabao announced that Shanghai was destined to be China's international financial centre, and later warned Hong Kong that, if it did not move forwards, it would lose its lead. We are on our own now, with no special favours in the future. Suddenly, the roof has fallen in; Daddy has thrown us into open competition. The future has suddenly become a problem.

The consensus now is that Shanghai will surely overtake us in less than a decade as the international financial centre of the country, and that will be the end of Hong Kong as the Pearl of the Orient.

This was the fate suffered by Yokohama in Japan. It started off as the most important port, handling half the country's trade, but was soon eclipsed by Tokyo.

Closer to home, Quanzhou , in Fujian province , was one of world's major trading ports until as late as the 14th century, but look at it now. This may well be the fate of Hong Kong if we do not strive to maintain our current position.

It is pathetic to see a confident metropolitan city suddenly shattered under a wave of pessimism. This is especially so when it is evident that the whole community, starting with our government, lawmakers, opinion leaders and media, all maintain a conspicuous silence and a resigned attitude. This is more than denial, it is a grudging acceptance of fate. We are doomed and there is nothing we can do about it.

Should this sinking-ship atmosphere continue, some people will just jump ship. They will leave Hong Kong but, this time, instead of migrating to industrialised English-speaking countries, many will choose to head north, where opportunities still abound. This will start a vicious cycle to accelerate and fulfil the consensus forecast of Hong Kong's downfall.

Fortunately, our young people refuse to give up without a fight because, for them, Hong Kong is no longer a transient money-making vehicle; it is home. I was delighted to read a recently advertised declaration by youngsters urging us to participate in making Hong Kong better.

They are not alone; there are many others like me, who might not share exactly the same vision, but who all see Hong Kong as our home. To us, it is irrelevant whether the city is China's only international financial centre, and we will not desert Hong Kong when it faces challenges. While every one of us is still standing, Hong Kong will have a future. Nobody can ever write us off.


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