Hong Kong is in the fast lane and its doors are opening wider and wider, Chief Executive John Lee told the Asian Financial Forum on Wednesday.
Lee said the SAR is making up for lost time and he is going to tell the world about the abundant opportunities it has on offer.
The theme of this year's forum, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, is "Accelerating Transformation: Impact, Inclusion, Innovation".
"Hong Kong is living this theme, going ahead the fast lane to make up for the time we lost in the past few years," said Lee in a speech.
The CE said the city's doors have recently been "opening wider and wider", pointing to the scrapping of hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals, the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit held in November, and the resumption of cross-border travel with the mainland.
He said the year is off to a "happy and thrilling start", but warned of complacency as the global economic outlook is fraught with uncertainty.
"While our short-term prospects may be challenging, our future looks bright. Thanks to continuing and wide-ranging support of our motherland, Hong Kong's strengths as an international financial centre linking the mainland and the rest of the world are primed to proliferate," he said.
Lee told industry leaders that the number of fintech companies in Hong Kong has grown over the past few years, adding that the city is dedicated to creating an environment for the sustainable and responsible development of virtual assets.
"In due course, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will announce the next steps, regarding the regulatory regime for stablecoins. We are also exploring a number of pilot projects to test the technological benefits of virtual assets and their applications in financial markets," he said.
With the Year of the Rabbit approaching, Lee said his administration will be visiting many different financial markets.
"Rabbits symbolise peace and prosperity, and the world clearly has an acute need of both. I know too that rabbits can run, and my team and I have a lot of running to do this year," he said.
"We'll be leading delegations to long-standing and emerging markets in the region and around the world. We need to tell them, to tell the world, that Hong Kong is back on the centre stage and what that means for the countries, economies and companies that partner with Hong Kong. What it means is opportunity, long-term, long-rewarding opportunities."