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A talk with Ian Fok Chun-wan on China's second free trade zone

The wealthy tycoon comments on a proposed free trade zone covering Hong Kong, Macau and part of Guangdong province.

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A woman reads a book before residential and commercial buildings in Hong Kong on July 3, 2012. (DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor's note: The author, Zhenyu Li, is a contributing columnist for some of the world's premier publications and editor-in-chief of the business channel at the People's Daily Online, a publication of China's Communist Party.

BEIJING, China — The National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), known as the "two sessions," two of China's most important annual political conventions, concluded not long ago in Beijing.

At the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the two sessions, Zhenyu Li, editor-in-chief of the business channel at People's Daily Online, had a brief talk with Ian Fok Chun-wan, a Hong Kong deputy to the 12th NPC and chief executive officer of the Fok Ying Tung Group, one of the biggest conglomerates in Hong Kong.

The topics of this interview include China's newly-released government work report, China's Guangdong province's proposed Hong Kong-Macao free trade zone and the ever-growing mainland tourists to Hong Kong.

Here are excerpts from their conversation, edited and condensed by GlobalPost.

Zhenyu Li: What's your impression about this year's government work report?

Ian Fok Chun-wan: I think the government work report is quite impressive. The central government under the new leadership has done very well, especially I think not so much for short-term interventions and so on, but more about long-term economic reforms, you know, allowing the market to play a decisive role in the economy. And I think it's very positive.

Zhenyu Li: As a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, do you have any suggestions in regard to the state affairs this year?

Ian Fok Chun-wan: Yes. I suggest, concerning the cooperation between Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland, although there has been much progress so far, there's still much room for improvement. There should be more proactive actions and so on, even in an area that will be jointly managed by the local government, the Hong Kong government and Macao government whatever and so on.

And I also suggest more free flow of people. That's a problem you know, the gate is open, but some doors still haven't opened yet. That's a problem, rules and regulations that govern the whole country. Maybe Hong Kong is a special area, an experimental area that can try out different things.

Zhenyu Li: Speaking of the cooperation between Hong Kong, Macao and the Chinese mainland, you know the Guangdong province recently submitted a proposal for the free trade zone covering Hong Kong, Macau and part of the Guangdong province. Do you have any comments about that?

Ian Fok Chun-wan: Well, I think facilitating the flow of talent between Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland is crucial to Guangdong province's proposed Hong Kong-Macao free trade zone. Now a lot of professionals from Hong Kong are going to the mainland for their career development, but they usually meet some difficulties because of the different tax system, vocational qualification and so on between Hong Kong and the mainland. However, the flow of these professionals is very important for this proposed free trade zone.

Zhenyu Li: There has been much debate recently about the ever-growing mainland tourists to Hong Kong. What do you think about that?

Ian Fok Chun-wan: We welcome tourists from the mainland. Tourism industry has always been of great importance to Hong Kong's economy. Hong Kong needs it for further development.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/globalpost-blogs/commentary/140327/talk-ian-fok-chun-wan-chinas-2nd-free-trade