HONG KONG -- An event promoting Beijing's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative was held in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as protests continue over mainland China's growing clout over the city.
This is the fourth Belt and Road Summit to be hosted by the Hong Kong government. China International Capital and HSBC were among the attendees.
"Hong Kong, China's most competitive and international city, will play a significant role in complementing this strategic direction," Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, said at the event.
More than two decades after Hong Kong was handed over to China, the city is being outshined by booming mainland metropolises like Shenzhen, China's Silicon Valley. Hong Kong's government and business elites are eager to bolster economic ties to the mainland, and to tap demand for financial services and insurance tied to the Belt and Road effort.
About 30% of respondents thought Hong Kong would benefit from the proposal to turn the city, Macao and the mainland's Guangdong Province into a giant metropolitan area, according to a March survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, 45% were concerned that this would further blur the line between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Fitch Ratings recently downgraded Hong Kong for the first time in 24 years to AA from AA+. "The gradual rise in Hong Kong's economic, financial, and sociopolitical linkages with the mainland implies its continued integration into China's national governance system, which will present greater institutional and regulatory challenges over time," the agency said in a statement.