Forum explores way forward for Hong Kong in Bay Area

Oswald Chan

Forum explores way forward for Hong Kong in Bay Area

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor joined national and local leaders on Wednesday at a forum to explore ways for the city to heighten its role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Greater Bay Area Conference: The Way Forward, organized by China Daily and the Silk Road Economic Development Research Center, attracted over 400 people including government officials, business leaders and members of academia to share and exchange their views on how to enhance collaboration among all sectors in the Hong Kong and Macao SARs and Guangdong province.

Lam pointed out some important principles in guiding Hong Kong’s participation in the Bay Area blueprint.

“First, adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ policy,” she said in her speech. “The Bay Area should leverage this unique arrangement of ‘one country, two systems’, three customs jurisdictions, three legal systems, etc. It should also emphasize mutual cooperation and win-win arrangements to minimize unhelpful competition while synergy should be created.”

Innovation and technology should be put at the top of our agenda, the chief executive added.

This calls for out-of-the-box thinking in Hong Kong’s cooperation with the mainland cities, particularly Shenzhen, Lam said. Hong Kong should play a more proactive role in identifying new opportunities for joint actions. And finally, greater emphasis should be placed on supporting young people and nurturing talent.

“It is time that we prepare the way forward for Hong Kong in this exciting region. I see three parts to this preparation, which are research, messaging and community engagement,” Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said in his address.

Leung said through research, the city can give the most comprehensive and factual understanding of the latest developments and policy publications in all sectors and in all cities in the Bay Area. The second stage, messaging, is to broadcast the results of the research findings comprehensively, effectively and objectively. The final step is community engagement, such as in schools, professional bodies, trade industries and investment communities aiming to change mindsets and attitudes, he said.

Leung added that Hong Kong can facilitate collaboration between mainland scientists and Hong Kong investors to bring new capital to laboratories and startups on the mainland. The city also can facilitate direct contacts between businesses and government, such as linking Hong Kong businesses and mainland municipal governments, broadening such connections and intensifying relationships.

Zhou Shuchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and China Daily publisher and editor-in-chief, said via a video link from Beijing, “The central government’s new dual-circulation development program is expected to mark a major shift in the country’s economic strategy, and the 11-city cluster in the Bay Area will, doubtless, play a key role in it.”

Annie Wu Suk-ching, honorary chairman of Beijing Air Catering, said Hong Kong can utilize its professional expatriates and expertise in finance, international litigation and mergers and acquisitions to bring overseas businesses to Hong Kong first before they start doing business in the Bay Area. The city can also bring technologies from overseas institutions into the Bay Area by using Hong Kong as a steppingstone.

“This was always a useful and important role for Hong Kong in the past, as it is in the present and also will be in the future,” Wu said.

The conference included three panel discussions to discuss healthcare sector development in the Bay Area, the role of technology infrastructure as the new engine of economic growth and the role of Hong Kong in the Bay Area blueprint.