14th Five-Year Plan

On 12 April 2021, the Law Society, jointly with the Department of Justice, organised a webinar titled “Policies, Strategies and Opportunities” in relation to the “Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035” (“14th Five-Year Plan”), which was approved at the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) on 11 March 2021. Guest speakers included Vice Chairman of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Mr C Y Leung and Vice Chairperson of the Committee for the Basic Law of HKSAR under the Standing Committee of NPC, Ms Maria Tam, as well as the Secretary for Justice, Ms Teresa Cheng.

In addition to the conventional online participation of 250 attendees via Zoom, the event has successfully attracted over 87,000 viewers via live-streaming with the support of Mainland online media.

While the extensive coverage was very encouraging, more importantly, it illustrated clearly how a proper integration into the Mainland market can elevate the level of achievement of a Hong Kong task.

An important factor contributing to successful integration is to have a clear understanding of the country’s needs and how Hong Kong can utilize its strengths to fulfill those needs.

The 14th Five-Year Plan is the blueprint guiding the future national development of China to 2035. Two chapters (61 and 31) of the Plan relate specifically to Hong Kong and Macao and set out detailed provisions on maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao, and on proactively and progressively taking forward the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“GBA”).

With respect to legal services, it is worth noting that the 14th Five-Year Plan continues to support Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international financial, transportation and trade centre, a global offshore Renminbi business hub, an international asset management centre and a risk management centre; establish itself as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region; and promote service industries for high-end and high value-added development. Furthermore, the 14th Five-Year Plan raises for the first time the support for Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international aviation hub, to develop into an international innovation and technology hub and a regional intellectual property trading centre.

The development of all these initiatives requires the support of a large pool of legal talent. The clear direction given by the Central Authorities is an important factor to take into account when deciding how to allocate precious resources to achieve a steady supply of quality legal services that are relevant to the needs of the future.

For example, in addition to the continued support for Hong Kong to be an international transportation centre, for the first time, Hong Kong has been graced with national support to enhance its status as an international aviation hub. This new blessing highlights where the market needs will be. The transportation industry covers a wide spectrum of services. With respect to legal services, they point to, for instance, shipping and aviation finance and insurance.

To highlight the growing importance of these practice areas, since 2018, the Law Society has set up a Transportation and Logistics Committee to help promote the profession’s contribution to transportation and logistics generally and Hong Kong’s role as an international dispute resolution centre and transportation and logistics hub. The Committee focuses on reviewing issues relating to the transportation and logistics industries in Hong Kong (including marine, shipping, aviation, air transport and cargo industries) with a view to assisting the Council in making relevant representations and submissions to the Government and relevant external bodies (e.g. Legislative Council and trade associations) in this increasingly important area.

The opportunities brought by the Belt & Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area development go hand-in-hand with Hong Kong’s enhanced role as an international maritime and aviation hub. To grasp these once in a life-time opportunities, we must align our future development plan with a view to ensuring that the legal service supply will match the needs of the market. High-end maritime and aviation law and arbitration services to shippers and air-crafters in aspects such as ship and aircraft financing, broking and maritime and aviation insurance are areas of practice that will be much needed to support the development of Hong Kong into an international transportation and aviation hub.

The potential in the development of the areas of transportation and aviation is elaborated by way of an example only. I encourage everyone to read the 14th Five Year Plan in detail to understand holistically the long-term national strategies and goals of China, of which Hong Kong is an inalienable part, to enable you to outline your own roadmap for your future development that creates the best synergy.

President

The Law Society of Hong Kong