HONG HONG, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- More than 300,000 local residents and tourists gathered at both sides of the Victoria Harbor and other attractions in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) to celebrate the new year and express goodwill wishes for the SAR on Tuesday evening.
Due to the transition of the year 2013 to 2014 (1314) has a particular meaning "for one's whole life" or "with lifetime" in Chinese language, many couples in Hong Kong and other places of the Greater China region choose the night to make confession or just stay together.
At Golden Bauhinia Square along the Victoria Habor on the Hong Kong island, thousands of people witnessed ten-second countdown shown in a giant LED display. On the other side of the harbor, Tsim Sha Tsui, people enjoyed the best view of fireworks shows which was launched just at the beginning of the new year.
"We came here to celebrate the new year with friends and their families and wish a better year for us and for all the people living in Hong Kong," said Liu Xia. "My husband especially likes the special meaning of the transition although he can not speak Chinese."
Liu's husband Philip, a British citizen who operated several factories in mainland China and lived in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, said everyday in Hong Kong is like a party. "I wish Hong Kong could keep its vitality in the new year to continue to be a bridge between China and the rest of the world."
Philip said he was concerned about appreciation of Renminbi and rising labor costs in the Pearl River Delta region which could impair Hong Kong's role as an international financial center.
According to statistics from Hong Kong Trade Development Council, about 55 percent of the costs of Hong Kong companies' products manufactured in the mainland were paid in RMB. Every percentage point the RMB appreciates could add 0.55 percentage point to value of Hong Kong companies' products.
On the last day of 2013, the central parity rate of the RMB against the U.S. dollar rose to 1:6.09, the record high of the year. The RMB also showed an appreciation trend against the Hong Kong dollar in the year.
Anita Fung, CEO of HSBC Hong Kong, said that Hong Kong is losing her competitive edge in RMB offshore business when more countries and regions have started similar businesses.
"If Shanghai became the international financial center in 2020, and then RMB has become convertible, Hong Kong can no longer enjoy the benefit as the sole RMB offshore center," Fung said.
How to keep Hong Kong's advantages in the economic relations with the mainland will be a serious question for the SAR's government in the next year, Philip said.
However, tourists from mainland China enjoyed their shopping spree in Hong Kong thanks to the RMB's appreciation and the SAR's famous low tax rate policy.
Ms. Ye Jieru and his mother who came from Zhejiang Province found many surprise when shopping at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. " Many commodities have the same price tag compared with the mainland but they are paid in Hong Kong dollars, which is more than 20 percent off, and more have even lower!"
"I think low tax rate policy is one of the attractions of Hong Kong," Philip said, "the government should improve service industry and create more reasons for enterprises from Chinese mainland and overseas to believe Hong Kong is the best choice for them to have their businesses being connected."