Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday that Hong Kong won't be assimilated with the mainland because of its participation in the Greater Bay Area development plan.
She dismissed concerns raised about the plan, saying it won't weaken Hong Kong's independent tariff status, nor blur the differences of the SAR's unique system under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.
Lam said central government officials have stressed many times that officials will stick to the principle and keep Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, while implementing the development of the Greater Bay area.
The Chief Executive said taking part will enhance Hong Kong's status as an international hub for finance, trade, logistics and aviation.
The Hong Kong leader was making an opening speech at a symposium on the plan, which was announced by Beijing on Monday.
She said it is time for Hong Kong to change from being a "connector" of the overseas world with the mainland, into an "active participant", and thus turning the SAR into a major beneficiary of the Greater Bay Area plan.
Lam also said Hong Kong needs to take part in the plan because its advantages as an international city have been narrowing recently, due to stringent challenges and stronger competition globally, caused in part by protectionism.
She said the SAR's involvement in the bay development can create new momentum and new opportunities for the city, and she thanked Beijing for listening to the views she had submitted on the plan.
Among the officials who attended the meetings were CPPCC vice-chairman Tung Chee-hwa, Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui and liaison office director Wang Zhimin.