PRESS COVERAGE
  • Hong Kong should aim higher in its bid to become a technological hub so as to grasp the opportunities in technological innovation created by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, former secretary for financial services and the treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung has urged. In so doing, he expected the SAR to be more than a capital market. Chan noted that, for a long time, Hong Kong merely wanted to be a financial center, but if the city looks at the Bay Area as an opportunity, greater focus should be laid on building up local technological companies or even unicorns — startups valued at above US$1 billion — as technological innovation is a major push in the Bay Area. “With top-notch universities in the city and their strong research ability, especially in biology and medicine, we need to make greater use of these resources and establish our own leadership in some of those areas,” he said. The former minister, who left the SAR government last year, was invited back to the business school at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as an adjunct professor. He had been with the university for more than a decade before joining the SAR government. Chan noted that local universities are unable to play their roles well in the innovation sector due to their lack of research talents. At the University of Hong Kong, for instance, it had 11,935 postgraduate students and 7,786 academic staff as of November last year, according to the institution’s management information unit of the president office. Compared to Peking University in Beijing, the number of HKU’s academic staff wasn’t far less, but its number of postgraduate students was only about half that of Peking University. In view of the talent shortage, Chan suggested that universities in Hong Kong raise their quotas for postgraduate students in areas like artificial intelligence and medicine. “If Hong Kong were to advance in technology and innovation, more talents and researchers are needed. If we cannot find enough higher-educated talents in the city, why not take them from the Chinese mainland, India, South Korea or elsewhere,” he suggested. He believed it would be worthwhile as these students should have already completed their four-year undergraduate courses and come to Hong Kong for advanced studies with their rich knowledge and experience. As for the development plan for the Bay Area, although the nuts and bolts of the project have yet to be unveiled, Chan expected to see the general blueprint and directions for the area. The development plan seems ready to be rolled out soon, with both the mega Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link now in service. But, Chan said it would be better to unveil a visionary picture than detailed measures for the time being. “There’s no need for too many details as this would invite some constraints,” he added. “These particular measures could emerge part by part as it would take time to formulate and refine them along the way.” Chan would not speculate on when a final announcement would be made or the reason for the delay.
    2018-10-30
  • Experts at Belt and Road Conference review key strategies in developing the Bay Area, vis-a-vis the BRI, convinced there’re rich rewards to be reaped. Two of China’s biggest initiatives — the Belt and Road and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area — could support each other as development progresses. The view was espoused by prominent business leaders and professionals during panel discussions held in conjunction with the Belt and Road Conference 2018, co-organized by China Daily and the Silk Road Economic Development Research Center, in Hong Kong on Monday. The conference — the fourth held so far on the Belt and Road Initiative — included three panel discussions and a number of keynote addresses on the theme “Tapping Belt and Road Opportunities in the Greater Bay Area”. The first panel dialogue, themed “Exploring Innovation and Technology Intra-Regional Cooperation in the Greater Bay Area”, was chaired by Ceajer Chan Ka-keung, adjunct professor of finance at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and former secretary for financial services and the treasury of the HKSAR. He kicked off the discussions by encapsulating the importance of the Bay Area as an “important supply chain to the world”, saying there’s “no other place like it”. Other panelists backed Chan’s assessment, with a consensus that the Bay Area’s unique position has given rise to special opportunities and challenges. George He, senior vice-president at Lenovo and president of the Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, touched on Hong Kong’s role in the Bay Area. “The Bay Area is a great opportunity for Hong Kong to be a great connector for startups. It has a role in developing high tech and robotics from Chinese startups and helping them expand overseas,” he said. Great opportunities ahead He said the SAR’s strengths in the field of research and development are not to be underestimated as well. “There’re a lot of great opportunities at Hong Kong universities. They have great technology, professors and students,” he said. Besides innovation-based industries, traditional businesses could benefit from the initiatives too. Arnold Cheng, director of Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta for John Swire and Sons (China), said he’s still excited over the Bay Area development despite his dealings with the more traditional business areas. “All these developments are opportunities for us. The home market (in Hong Kong) will expand from 7 million to 68 million. And, with the key infrastructures in place, one can now easily go from Shenzhen’s Futian district to Hong Kong airport in about an hour,” he said. The sudden boom and connectivity means a fast growing market for all, said Cheng, convinced that his company’s beverage-and-property development businesses will stand to benefit. “Besides an enlarged home market, it also means there’ll be more people resources to grow our businesses.” However, there’s still much work to be done, Cheng noted, with three main areas of development in store — integrating the Bay Area into a single market; enhancing its competitiveness by increased collaboration among member cities in the Bay Area; and ensuring the free flow of people, information, capital and goods within it. Not only would such a scenario benefit the region itself, it could build up the expertise to support countries along the BRI route. Doris Luey, head of social innovation for New World Development, pointed out that the shared tech innovations within the Bay Area could help boost industries. “Technology brings a lot of disruption. We’re facing the fourth industrial revolution, and the Bay Area could be an opportunity to transform these traditional businesses,” he said. E Zhihuan, chief economist at Bank of China (Hong Kong), reckons that financial technology, in particular, could find a great playground in the area. “Artificial intelligence development can experience a growth spurt and enter the disruptive phase in the fintech of the Bay Area,” she said. Luey, however, pointed out that the different policies of the three jurisdictions in the Bay Area might need to be sorted out. “Mobile payment is a powerful tool. In the Bay Area, we have different policies and compliance terms concerning it. How do we work through the different privacy ordinances and integrate the systems?” she asked. The subject of regulatory differences also came up during the discussions. “The Bay Area is different from other world bay areas because of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy in Hong Kong and Macao. It allows us to be more dynamic and to conduct experiments before exporting to the external market. Thus, it should not be measured by the same metrics as other bay areas in the world,” said Chan. He also referred to the results of a survey conducted by consulting firm KPMG on the Bay Area. “The key benefits of the Bay Area would be the free flow of talent, greater regional ties, and better market penetration. But, to deal with the challenges facing it, policy barriers and government foresight in planning capabilities were highlighted,” said Chan. A place for new ideas Also, there might be a clash arising from the difference in government attitudes toward their own economies. “The difference between the mainland and here (Hong Kong) includes market-driven and planned economies. Each system is based on its beliefs in the market. We should see the Bay Area as a place to try out new ideas and compromise to make effective policies to promote global economy,” said Wong Kam-fai, associate dean of external affairs at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Engineering. Cheng agreed that integration could be a tough process. “The governments have been working hard to address many of these integration issues. What’s left is tough, and is not likely to be worked through in a month or even a year. But, they’re working toward it,” he said. Cheng suggested that two areas should be looked at. “The Bay Area can be a tourism destination. It can make for a one-journey, multiple-destination spot. However, most tourists get a single entry visa for the mainland. It would be hard for them to move from say, Shenzhen to Hong Kong to Zhuhai because of it,” he noted, adding that being a tourism hotspot could promote the Bay Area to those who are unaware of it. Besides tourism, another area would the development of a circular economy in the region. Chen Guanghan, associate dean and chief expert at the Institute of Guangdong Hong Kong and Macao Development Studies of Sun Yat-sen University, thinks that a better-integrated Bay Area could lead to more innovations. “Innovation is a key ingredient for the region’s success. We can, and should, integrate our resources in knowledge transference,” he urged. “If we can replicate Hong Kong’s success as a financial center, we should do it for the Bay Area to be known as a center of innovation for the Belt and Road countries and the rest of the world,” he added. Nonetheless, all the panelists were on the same page that there’re rich rewards to be reaped from the Bay Area development, especially in relation to the BRI. “Despite the challenges, there are tremendous opportunities to be found in the Bay Area as an external-looking area that will power a nation going forward,” Chan concluded.
    2018-10-30
  • HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is working closely and proactively with relevant central government departments in taking forward new policies to unleash the innovation and technological potential for inter-regional cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Speaking at the forum Belt and Road Conference: Tapping Belt and Road Opportunities in the Greater Bay Area organized by China Daily and the Silk Road Economic Development Research Center, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said “the aim is to develop the Bay Area into the Silicon Valley of China.” “Leveraging on our advantage in scientific research, internationalization, our robust legal system, rule of law and our status as an international financial, business and logistics center, Hong Kong is in an excellent position to contribute to the national strategy of innovation-driven development, namely building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into an international innovation and technology hub,” Cheung said in his keynote address. The Bay Area, comprising the nation’s two special administrative regions and nine mainland cities in the Pearl River Delta region, boasts a population of nearly 68 million and a gross domestic product of nearly US$1.4 trillion. It will be a key pillar for the Belt and Road Initiative as the Bay Area will be an innovation and technology hub. “We have gathered to hear how Hong Kong can take full advantage of this increased opportunity,” said Zhou Li, editorial board member of China Daily Group and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific. “We would like to be able to visualize the roadmap that must follow to play a pivotal role in the process of China’s reaching out to the world.” Cheung said the government is committed to fostering innovation and technology development in eight areas, namely increasing resources for research and development, pulling the resources together, providing investment funding, providing technological research infrastructure, renewing exiting legislation/regulation, opening up government data, changes in government’s procurement policy, and strengthening popular science education. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in her October Policy Address, announced the government will allocate HK$28 billion to expedite reindustrialization, promote research and development in universities, revamp e-government services and encourage innovation in society. The amount is in addition to the HK$50 billion announced by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in February to support key technology areas such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technology. The Hong Kong Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in Lok Ma Chau Loop, when completed, will be the largest technology business park in Hong Kong with an area of 87 hectares and is expected to boost the area's global position in technology and provide an incubator for technology startups. The administration has earmarked HK$20 billion for the first-phase development. Besides infrastructure, Cheung reckoned that talent is also an essential piece of the jigsaw puzzle of innovation and technology development. The government has launched the three-year pilot Technology Talent Admission Scheme which provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible technology companies and institutes to admit overseas and mainland technology talent to undertake research and development work in biotechnology, AI, cyber security and robotics. “The Belt and Road Initiative has made a tremendous impact on all participating countries, not just transforming the economies along the BRI, but it also contributed a shift in the lifestyle of many countries,” said Joseph Chan Nap-kee, chairman at Silk Road Economic Development Research Center. “With more influence of more infrastructure projects, we are thrilled for even more progressive changes of BRI.”
    2018-10-30
  • Innovation and technology is seen as a key development area for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while Hong Kong will continue to play its vital role as the “super connector” in various sectors, experts in different fields said on Monday. They made the call in a panel discussion themed “Exploring Innovation and Technology Intra-Regional Cooperation in the Greater Bay Area” at the China Daily Belt and Road Conference in Hong Kong. Not many city clusters in the world have the economic power that the Greater Bay Area has, former Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung noted. He said three important cities in the area – Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou – make it an important supply chain, providing goods and services to the rest of the world. And Hong Kong is connecting the area to the world. Lenovo Senior Vice President and Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group President George He recommended that Hong Kong attract more global high-tech companies to establish headquarters in the city. Arnold Cheng, director of Hong Kong & Pearl River Delta at John Swire & Sons (China) Limited, said three factors should be eyed when developing innovation. One is to integrate the whole Greater Bay Area into a single market, second is to enhance the region’s competitiveness by more collaboration among cities, and third is to serve the national development and also the Belt and Road countries. He believed companies like Swire Group could benefit from the area as it allows them to have better exposure to the region’s frontier technology and innovation. E Zhihuan, chief economist at Bank of China Hong Kong, agreed that the future development of the area will not only create shining opportunities, but challenges for related parties. She introduced a formula of opportunities throughout the Greater Bay Area, saying “nine cities in Guangdong province plus Hong Kong and Macao equals manufacturing center plus technological innovation center plus financial service hub plus leisure and entertainment”. Based on this diversified pattern, the region calls for more advanced financial infrastructure, a more mature financial regulation and industry rulemaking system, and more application of disruptive technologies into economic growth, she said. Chen Guanghan, a professor at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, urged more Hong Kong finance capital into the region rather than overseas. In addition, young-leader incubation is also a focus. Doris Luey Si-si, head of social innovation at Hong Kong-based New World Development Company, said the company has hosted a summer camp for secondary students in the area, helping them broaden horizons and encouraging them to create, as they are the future of the area. Professional talent foster programs are also being promoted in universities. Wong Kam-fai, associate dean of the engineering faculty at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the university has been collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences for more than 10 years. They established an institute in Shenzhen first and then set up an on-campus joint laboratory in Hong Kong. He spoke highly of this kind of academic cooperation as it serves as the cradle for innovation and talent for the Greater Bay Area.
    2018-10-30
  • China’s key national initiatives, including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative, are shifting to a more hard-headed stance amid slower economic growth projections and lower market confidence, exacerbated by the ongoing US-China trade stand-off and expectations of further interest-rate hikes, according to a prominent economist. The US Federal Reserve is on course to raise interest rates gradually to allow a steady economy. Coupled with the “unpredictable” trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, the emerging market has borne the brunt of the currency turmoil, causing the Chinese yuan to hit an almost two-year low this month. Given the pool of market uncertainties, E Zhihuan, chief economist at Bank of China (Hong Kong), said she’s confident about the future development and implementation of the Bay Area and the BRI, like “no weal without woe”. “Market volatility and uncertainty could, however, give us an opportunity to be more pragmatic — doing things one by one, step by step — in terms of tackling different demands from individuals, corporations and others within the region,” E tells China Daily. Amid the opposite and different directions of the monetary policies of China and the United States, the two nations’ interest-rate spread decreased from 150 basis points last year to around 40 basis points this year, which is viewed as an indicator of renminbi depreciation pressure, she explains. However, she believes the yuan’s downside risk is still within government control given China’s steadier economic fundamentals compared with other economies in the emerging market. China will be able to attain its economic growth target of around 6.5 percent for the full year, with steady growth next year despite the downturn pressure, Mao Shengyong, a spokesman of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said on Oct 19. The Bay Area — a cluster of nine cities in Guangdong province along with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions — with their respective advantages, turns out to be more significant amid the current world financial situation. Hong Kong, as Asia’s financial hub, is expected to play its unique role in the region’s financial services sector. To better cater to the region’s financial innovation, E points to three directions for financial institutions — cross-boundary finance, “people’s livelihood” finance and innovative finance. “Due to the specialty of the Bay Area — ‘one country, two systems’, three customs areas and different currencies — it calls for a good cross-boundary financial environment,” she explains. “Cross-boundary investment, fundraising and payment services are Hong Kong’s future direction in providing financial services.” Another opportunity will come from the region’s industrial upgrade, the economist predicts. With the aim of building a world-class technological hub, the Bay Area aims to shift away from the traditional growth model in favor of incubating more “technological stars” which, inevitably, will create a great amount of an affluent middle-class and even billionaires. “The gathering of the affluent class may boom in the asset management, wealth management and investing management markets,” says E. With the Bay Area in mind, Bank of China (Hong Kong) has launched financial services in cross-boundary finance, livelihood finance and innovative finance to better serve the “one-hour economic circle” — arriving at every corner of the Bay Area within one hour.
    2018-10-30
  • The future growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area must pursue a high-quality economic expansion model to be driven by the innovative sector, according to scholars. Compared to other bay areas around the world, like those of San Francisco and Tokyo, the GDP per capita in our Bay Area is lower at the moment, but we enjoy the advantages no other bay area in the world has, reckons Chen Guanghan, associate dean and chief expert at the Institute of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Development Studies at Sun Yat-sen University. Speaking to China Daily after a panel discussion at the Belt and Road Conference on Monday, he noted that the economy of San Francisco’s Bay Area is driven by its high-tech and biomedical industries, while that of Tokyo is propelled by high-end manufacturing. China’s Bay Area has a bigger population, a larger economic hinterland and a more complete industry category. “The Bay Area must pursue high-quality economic growth, and I believe this will be driven by innovation,” he said. Chen explained he drew his conclusion from the fact that Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region are complementary to each other. Hong Kong and Shenzhen are already very competitive in terms of innovation, he said, adding that when Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, it announced it aimed to turn itself into an innovation center in the Asia-Pacific region. The proposal did not reach a broad consensus back then. But, in recent years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has been attaching greater importance to developing the innovation-and-technology sector. Hong Kong is bankrolling a big effort in research and development by allocating a further HK$28 billion to boost innovation ­— a bold target set by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her second Policy Address on Oct 10 this year. She had vowed to double expenditure on research and development to 1.5 percent over the next five years in her maiden policy address in 2017. At the same time, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po pledged to dish out a massive HK$50 billion from the budget funding pie to support innovation and technology this financial year. Chen believes that Hong Kong’s world-class universities and international research environment will make the city a perfect place for cultivating talents and conducting fundamental research, while Shenzhen will be great in commercializing the fruits of such research. The traditional advantage of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta region will then take the products to end-users in China and the rest of the world. Besides, Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub will allow it to play a vital role in funding and incubating the innovative projects, he said. The Bay Area development will also provide a huge boost to the nation’s Belt and Road Initiative, particularly to the Maritime Silk Road. With Hong Kong as a global financial hub and Shenzhen and Guangzhou as regional financial centers, the Bay Area can be the investment and fundraising focus for BRI projects. The Bay Area has many large ports, as well as seven airports, and the 11-city cluster will be a transportation and arbitration center for BRI projects, according to Chen. “Since the cities in the Bay Area complement each other, they will play a great part in the Belt and Road Initiative,” he added.
    2018-10-30
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