HONG KONG (China Daily/Asia News Network): The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government welcomed the Fraser Institute’s recognition of Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy in its latest report on economic freedom.
Singapore was ranked second in the 2021 report, followed by New Zealand, Switzerland and Georgia. The United States, Ireland, Lithuania, Australia and Denmark rounded out the top 10.
The report measures the economic freedom — the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions — by analyzing the policies and institutions of 165 countries and regions. Indicators include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, sound legal system and property rights, and government spending and taxation.
Hong Kong has gained the top rank since the inception of the report in 1996.
Among the five areas of assessment, Hong Kong continued to rank top in "freedom to trade internationally" and "regulation".
"This is an unequivocal affirmation of Hong Kong's long-standing and steadfast commitment to building a free economy with a level playing field," a Hong Kong government spokesman said in a release on Tuesday.
However, the spokesman refuted unfair comments by Fraser Institute regarding Hong Kong's rule of law, the enactment of the National Security Law and interventions of Hong Kong's affairs by the mainland.
"We would like to stress that, under 'one country, two systems', HKSAR's trusted legal system remains as robust as ever,” the spokesman said.
“The rule of law is a fundamental core value of Hong Kong and much cherished by the community. We have been fully committed to upholding Hong Kong's fine tradition of the rule of law and judicial independence."
The spokesman said the enactment of the National Security Law is for safeguarding national security, which is the legitimate right and duty of every state.
“The National Security Law has clearly stipulated four categories of offences that endanger national security. It clearly sets out the elements of the offences, penalties, mitigation factors and other consequences. There is no question of law-abiding persons inadvertently violating the law."
The HKSAR is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China. It enjoys a high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems” and comes directly under the Central People's Government, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said Hong Kong will continue to actively integrate into the new overall development of the country by capturing the opportunities arising from the national 14th Five-Year Plan and other national development plans.
"The HKSAR government will continue to uphold Hong Kong's institutional strengths, including the rule of law and judicial independence, a free trade and investment regime, a simple and low tax system, a favorable business environment and an efficient and clean government,” the spokesman added.