Gov’t e-sports effort pays off

Most Hong Kong folks thought e-sports was just playing video games, not realising that the e-sports industry drives and thrives on innovation and technology. Here in Hong Kong, we do have a world-class information and communication technology infrastructure, which is necessary for the e-sports industry. And we also have excellent experience and a track record in hosting large-scale international events. After asking Cyberport to conduct a study on the e-sports industry, confirming its scale and future potential, we wasted no time. We announced in the 2018-19 Budget Speech the allocation of $100 million for promoting the early stage development of the local e-sports industry, which includes the construction of a dedicated world-class e-sports competition venue at Cyberport. I am pleased to see the effort and resources put in by the Government and Cyberport bearing fruit, with the first official e-sports competition to be held at this great new venue this coming weekend.

 

Following the Government’s $100 million injection in 2018, Cyberport has swiftly set up the “e-sports Industry Facilitation Scheme” and the “e-sports Internship Scheme” to help the industry organise competitions and events and to provide funding support for interns. You should all be impressed by this e-sports venue, which is among the best in the region. It has state-of-the-art facilities – the sports arena which you are sitting in, advanced lighting and audio system, the ultra-high resolution screen behind me, together with the large outdoor screen at the podium. It also provides adjacent storage spaces for the convenience of competition and event organisers. I am confident that this venue will develop into a flagship e-sports and digital entertainment centre in Hong Kong.

 

As the theme of Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum 2019 suggests, a vibrant ecosystem is instrumental to the development of the e-sports industry. Over the past year, Cyberport has invited various key players and stakeholders to join the ecosystem, be they e-sports associations, game owners, e-sports venue operators, hardware and software companies, e-sports gadget manufacturers, gamers, live streaming companies and higher education institutions. Today, I am pleased to see that Cyberport will enter into more strategic partnerships with the Hong Kong e-sports Premier League, and Team Hong Kong enters the Robot Fighting Championship of World Cyber Games.

 

Promoting the development of e-sports will bring new opportunities for our young people. This was a key consideration of the Government to drive the development of the e-sports industry three years ago. It is still true today and for the foreseeable future, as e-sports presents many new alternative career paths for youth, from professional players, technical experts and consultants, game developers, directors, coaches, promoters and commentators, to startup entrepreneurs in this exciting Internet-driven economy.

 

I would like to congratulate Cyberport on its accomplishments, in providing a fertile breeding ground for Hong Kong’s very own e-sports industry. With continued efforts from all the stakeholders and most important of all, strong support from the community, I look forward to seeing a thriving e-sports industry, not just players and game developers, but also a wide range of I&T professionals in digital marketing and live streaming etc. in the years ahead.

 

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum 2019 on July 16.

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People propel HK forward

I am most honoured to join you all this evening to celebrate the French National Day. This year also marks the 55th anniversary of diplomatic ties between France and China. With French President (Emmanuel) Macron visiting Mainland China last year and President Xi visiting France this March, the bilateral relations between the two nations will expand further and create boundless opportunities for business and people of both sides.

 

Hong Kong’s strategic location at the centre of Asia, our status as an international financial centre, our deep pool of professional talents and our extensive international trade networks make Hong Kong an ideal partner of French businesses to jointly tap the vast market offered by our motherland. That is why more than 9% of the total merchandise trade between France and Mainland China last year was routed through Hong Kong. Last year, that added up to US$5.6 billion.

 

Indeed, Hong Kong and France have all along enjoyed a splendid bilateral relationship. France is Hong Kong’s fourth largest trading partner in the European Union and 16th largest merchandise trading partner in the world. Last year, our bilateral trade reached US$11.3 billion, representing an increase of 2.4% over 2017.

 

French wine has certainly acted as an active catalyst for such a buoyant relationship. It accounted for 65% of our total wine imports last year. In value, French wine imports realised more than US$1 billion, representing nearly 10% year-on-year growth.

 

Beyond food and beverage companies, luxury fashion and retailing, banking and finance, transport and logistics, pharmaceuticals, technology, insurance and many other French sectors and industries are thriving here. Indeed, more than 600 French companies call Hong Kong home. Among them, some 170 have chosen Hong Kong as the base of their regional headquarters or regional offices.

 

Our links are not confined to trade and business. Currently, the 20,000-strong French community in Hong Kong is the largest in Asia. French culture has already become a part of Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan culture. Just over two weeks ago, Le French May successfully completed another festive season in Hong Kong. Some 700,000 people attended more than 120 arts and cultural events brought to brilliant life by 350 performers from France, Hong Kong and Macau during this annual cultural highlight in Asia’s world city.

 

The innovative spirit of France, as the Consul General highlighted, is alive and flourishing in Hong Kong. In March 2016, French Tech Hong Kong, the official online hub of the French tech ecosystem, was launched in Hong Kong to facilitate access by French entrepreneurs to the local ecosystem and make the French tech community more visible on the Hong Kong tech scene. The partnership in advancing science and technology collaboration is further boosted by the tripartite partnership among the University of Hong Kong, Institut Pasteur and Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation established in June 2018 for setting up a joint biomedical research centre for immunology, infection and personalised medicine.

 

French companies are also active in innovation, technology and startup businesses in Hong Kong. The fourth edition of “So French So Innovative” was successfully held in April this year to present top French companies with international presence such as Schneider Electric, Suez and Renault, as well as young small and medium-sized enterprises and startups, showcasing expertise and dynamism in terms of “creative tech that works”. In 2018, Hong Kong recorded over 2,600 innovation and technology startups, an 18% increase over 2017. About 35% of these startups are founded by overseas entrepreneurs or returnees to Hong Kong. I am most pleased to note that French entrepreneurs account for over 7% of the total foreign startup founders in Hong Kong. I look forward to seeing more French companies connect and excel in Hong Kong.

 

French excellence is also evidenced by its quality education. The French International School, which began in 1963, now counts four campuses with over 2,700 students in Hong Kong. Last November, the French Minister of State and our Chief Executive jointly opened the new French International School in Tseung Kwan O campus since they met at Airbus Helicopters in France in June 2018. The impressive new campus focuses on sustainable development in both design and philosophy.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we just celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). During the past 22 years since Hong Kong returned to our motherland, Hong Kong has experienced some changes, some ups and downs of course, in the political, economic and social spheres. Yet, Hong Kong has remained steadfast, stable and prosperous. Backed by our country and open to the world, Hong Kong has continued to leverage its unique advantages under “one country, two systems”.

 

Under “one country”, Hong Kong has benefitted greatly from the country’s reform and opening up, and has enjoyed greater room for growth and development in social, economic and livelihood areas. On “two systems”, after our return to the motherland, Hong Kong is still internationally recognised as one of the freest economies in the world, with basic rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people fully protected by the Basic Law.

 

As in the past, Hong Kong will weather any storm on the strength of our people’s energy, endurance and resourcefulness. The HKSAR Government is determined to ensure that the Government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community in order to reconnect with our people. Let us all work together to propel Hong Kong forward and jealously safeguard Hong Kong’s reputation as an international metropolis of order, progress, stability and hope. I trust that with the joint efforts of all quarters of society, including our French community, Hong Kong will continue to thrive in the many years ahead.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the French National Day 2019 reception on July 12.

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HK, US partnership strong

Last year, the US bilateral trade surplus in goods and services with Hong Kong was valued at US$33.8 billion. The US was Hong Kong’s second largest merchandise trading partner in the world after Mainland China, while Hong Kong was the US’ 10th largest export market, its third largest market for US$130 million worth of wine, fourth largest market for US$1 billion of beef and beef products and seventh largest market for US$4 billion consumer-oriented agricultural products.

 

Hong Kong has also been a strong and important partner to the US, as evidenced by our solid bilateral trade and economic ties and our long-standing and cordial relationship in various aspects. In particular, our strong and valuable enforcement co-operation on various fronts including counter-terrorism, money-laundering, drug-trafficking and strategic trade controls and more. Our co-operation is broad, effective and mutually beneficial.

 

I am most pleased to note that some 1,400 US companies have chosen Hong Kong as the base for their regional offices and regional headquarters and that about 85,000 American citizens are calling Hong Kong home. These are indeed a vote of confidence in this Asia’s world city. The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee this year, which is another testimony to the trust and support of our US trade and business partners for Hong Kong. As in the past, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will continue to join hands with our local and international communities in good times and bad times in the years ahead.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, since the return to the motherland, the HKSAR has been successfully implementing the principle of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law.

 

Article 116 of the Basic Law provides that the HKSAR is a separate customs territory. Article 151 of the Basic Law further provides that Hong Kong may use the name of “Hong Kong, China” to participate in international organisations such as the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation as a separate member and maintain economic and trade relationships with the other 163 members of the World Trade Organization.

 

Hong Kong’s unique status and advantages under the “one country, two systems” – a right conferred on the HKSAR by the motherland through the Basic Law – have all along been widely recognised and respected by the international community, allowing Hong Kong to establish mutually beneficial collaboration relationships with economies around the world, including the US, at bilateral and multilateral international trade and economic levels.

 

Hong Kong will, as always, respect, abide by and uphold “one country, two systems” in accordance with the Basic Law to safeguard the rights of our country and the HKSAR. It is also the important cornerstone of the successful economic and trade development in the HKSAR.

 

Indeed, no other economy flies the flag of free trade as openly, as resolutely, as passionately as Hong Kong does. This explains why the Washington-based Heritage Foundation named Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for 25 years in a row.

 

Third party and independent surveys by the World Economic Forum and World Bank have also pointed to the fact that the rule of law and judicial independence, which are guaranteed under the Basic Law, have been upheld in Hong Kong. These important attributes, together with low levels of corruption, high standards for public health and safety, world-class infrastructure and highly professional services, have continued to make Hong Kong a preferred platform for business and investment activities from the US.

 

While the HKSAR Government spares no effort in safeguarding freedoms of Hong Kong residents including freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration as provided under the Basic Law, we will not tolerate any act of violence that may undermine the rule of law or peace and order in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government will continue to uphold these precious core values as in the past and will spare no effort in maintaining Hong Kong as one of the world’s safest cities. As the Chief Executive stressed in her speech yesterday at the ceremony celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, the Government will be more open, accessible, communicative, responsive and accommodating to aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community so that we can have a better feel of the public pulse in paving the way forward for Hong Kong. I have no doubt that Hong Kong will continue to thrive on the strength of our distinct qualities as a free, secure, vibrant and attractive international metropolis where people and business from around the world can connect and excel in their chosen fields.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we fully understand the concern that many of you may have over the trade tensions between the US and its trading partners including Mainland China. Trade tensions and frictions, if loomed large, will not just hurt the parties involved. World trade and economic development will also suffer collateral damage. We are pleased to hear that the US and China will continue negotiations without introducing new tariffs after President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump met on the margins of the G20 Osaka Summit last Saturday. 

 

Hong Kong has been and will continue to be a strong partner of the US. Our existing mutually beneficial ties are attributable to the common interest and shared values between our two economies, as well as years of hard work and goodwill cultivated by people on both sides. I trust that the US sees eye to eye with us on building a stronger and closer partnership between the two economies in the many years ahead.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the US Independence Day reception on July 2.

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Gov’t to be more open

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. Every year, July 1 gives us an opportunity to look back on our past and look forward to a new year ahead for the SAR.

 

Two years ago, at the Inaugural Ceremony of the Fifth Term SAR Government, I solemnly pledged that in response to the new circumstances and conflicts in society at that time, I would do everything within my ability to identify the crux of the issues, to ease anxiety in the community, and to pave the way forward for Hong Kong. Over the past two years, the SAR Government has endeavoured to fulfil this pledge by implementing a host of policies and initiatives, large and small.

 

However, the incident that happened in recent months has led to controversies and disputes between the public and the Government. This has made me fully realise that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately. I am also fully aware that while we have good intentions, we still need to be open and accommodating. While the Government has to ensure administrative efficiency, it still needs to listen patiently.

 

After this incident, I will learn the lesson and ensure that the Government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community. The first and most basic step to take is to change the Government’s style of governance to make it more open and accommodating. We also need to reform the way we listen to public views. Such work should be carried out without delay and will start from me:  

I will make more time for meeting with individuals from different political parties, walks of life and backgrounds. This will enable me to maintain my political awareness and gauge the pulse of the community; I will actively reach out to young people of different backgrounds through various channels to listen to their thoughts; I will enhance the Government’s overall work in communicating with different people and carrying out more comprehensive, accurate and timely analysis on the community’s views on various government policies or issues of public concern in order to better gauge the public sentiments; I and my team will further strengthen communication between the executive authorities and the legislature. The objectives are to understand earlier the concerns of members of different political affiliations when policies are being developed, and to discuss with them and gather their views at the different stages of policy formulation to facilitate constructive interactions; and I will ensure that in formulating policies, the Government itself will make critical assessment of the situation and make thorough deliberations. In implementing policies, there will be adequate co-ordination among departments to ensure that the policies bring benefits and convenience to the public.

 

I know that the Government has a lot to improve. We will continue to listen to the community’s views and make continuous improvement to our work.

 

At present, Hong Kong is facing a lot of problems. The external environment is unstable and the trade conflict between China and the United States is yet to be resolved. Hong Kong’s economy is facing greater downside risks. We should devote our energy to taking precautionary measures as well as making appropriate responses. The Government’s work cannot stop.

 

Serving over seven million people in Hong Kong, we also have much to do in the future to improve people’s livelihood. We have to further improve education and healthcare, provide more opportunities for young people and increase social services such as elderly and child care services, as well as address the most challenging housing problem and more.

 

Distinguished guests, fellow citizens, during the past 22 years since Hong Kong returned to the motherland, Hong Kong has experienced some changes, ups and downs, in the political, economic and social areas. Yet, Hong Kong has, generally speaking, remained stable and prosperous. Backed by the motherland and open to the world, Hong Kong has continued to leverage its unique advantages under “one country, two systems”. Under “One Country”, Hong Kong has benefited from the country’s reform and opening-up and has enjoyed greater room for growth and development in social, economic and livelihood areas.  On “Two Systems”, after its return to the motherland, Hong Kong is still internationally recognised as one of the freest economies in the world, with the basic rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people fully protected by the Basic Law.

 

To successfully implement “one country, two systems” and capitalise on Hong Kong’s various advantages to develop our economy and improve people’s livelihood, we have to make plans together and work in concert. Every one of us in Hong Kong, though holding different views and assuming different roles, loves this place and treasures our long-cherished values. I and the SAR Government will double our efforts to restore people’s confidence and get Hong Kong off to a new start. Thank you.

 

This is a translation of the speech delivered by Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the reception for the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1.

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Academy of Finance established

It was in the 2018-19 Budget that I announced the plan for an academy of finance to be set up by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). The HKMA has completed the task admirably, with full collaboration from the Securities & Futures Commission, the Insurance Authority and the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority. In addition, they turned to, and will continue to count on, the prodigious strengths of Hong Kong’s financial services sector and our tertiary institutions and professional bodies.

 

From the beginning, the academy’s goals have been clear and clearly ambitious – to nurture financial leadership, while encouraging monetary and financial research, particularly applied, cross-sectoral research. More than goals, they are indeed critical requirements, if Hong Kong is to maintain its standing as one of the world’s most competitive financial centres.

 

The academy is a smart complement to a host of other financial initiatives, all designed to consolidate our strengths and create new competitive advantages for the economy, and the future of Hong Kong.

 

They include financial technology and green finance. The inaugural Green Bond under the Government Green Bond Programme was launched just more than a month ago. Packaged with an issuance size of US$1 billion and a tenor of five years, it was very well received by the market and global investors.

 

It has been a memorable year too, thanks to the issuing of eight virtual bank licences over the past three months. They will help drive fintech and promote financial inclusion in Hong Kong. And, let me add, the Faster Payment System and Common QR Code Standard for Retail Payments launched last September have also received a very encouraging response to date.

 

These, and many other financial sector initiatives, demand the sustainable development of talent.

 

And that is where the Academy of Finance comes in.

 

From now on, the existing Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research has become a subsidiary of the academy, with a mandate expanded to conduct applied research. The Institute will reach out to academics and researchers. Together, they will analyse strategic issues affecting monetary and financial developments in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.

 

In doing so, I am confident they will also help our financial services sector realise the far-reaching opportunities generated by the Greater Bay Area development plan and the Belt & Road Initiative.

 

The academy’s other goal, ensuring sustainable sectoral talent, will be driven by its Centre for Financial Leadership Development. The academy will target mostly senior executives from a broad cross-section of the financial industry – banking, insurance, securities, law, accounting, academia and more. Membership is by invitation only, to be nominated by the Academy’s Membership Committee.

 

They will hear from, learn from and find inspiration from internationally recognised financial leaders. Indeed, next month Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, is scheduled to be the Academy’s first overseas speaker.

 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave these remarks at the Hong Kong Academy of Finance Inauguration Ceremony & Fellowship Conferment on June 26.

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Justice chief apologises to public

The Government has earlier announced that it has stopped the legislative amendment exercise regarding the Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 at the full Legislative Council and has stressed that there is no timetable for restarting the process. Although my DoJ (Department of Justice) colleagues and I joined hands with the other government officials in meeting various sectors in the community to explain our proposals, there were still deficiencies in the Government’s work.

Regarding the controversies and disputes in society arising from the strife in the past few months, being a team member of the Government, I offer my sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong. We promise to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public.

The Department of Justice will continue to maintain close contacts with the legal sector to exchange views on matters of mutual concern. Since I took office as the Secretary for Justice, I have put in arrangements of regular meetings with the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association to enhance our communications with the legal sector. I also frequently meet with legal practitioners as well as professionals from the arbitration and mediation sectors to explore ways to uphold our rule of law and consolidate Hong Kong as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services.

Last but not the least, the Government has learned a hard lesson, but we remain hopeful that the experience gained will help us work better to meet the public’s expectations in future. 

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on June 21.

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CE urges restoration of order

Fellow citizens,

 

Throughout the day, you could all see the distressing scenes in the Admiralty area. These acts of rioting, which damage social peace and disregard the law, are intolerable in any civilised society that respects the rule of law.

 

Clearly, this is no longer a peaceful assembly but a blatant, organised riot, and in no way an act of loving Hong Kong.

 

This morning, some people in total disregard to public safety occupied and blocked carriageways, paralysed traffic and gravely disrupted order in society.

 

Starting in the afternoon, some people repeatedly charged toward the police cordon line and carried out dangerous and even life-threatening acts, including setting fire, using sharpened iron poles and bricks to attack the Police and damaging nearby public facilities, thereby posing serious threats to the safety of the general public, the young people who intended to express their views peacefully, the reporters, police officers and civil servants. We must strongly condemn them.

 

I understand that the amendment to the ordinance by the Government this time has drawn strong positive and negative opinions in society and the Government has actively responded and explained many times. The fact is that since the return to the Motherland, issues involving the Central Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Mainland and Hong Kong, will be used by some people to stir up controversies and disputes. Intense confrontation is surely not the solution to ease disputes and resolve controversies.

 

I hope you can all calm down to consider that this is not the first time in recent years that we have seen such riotous scenes. Hong Kong is a free, open and pluralistic society that values different opinions on everything. However, there is a bottom line in regard to the means of expressing an opinion, be it a supporting or opposing view. If a goal can be reached by radical and violent means, such scenes will become more severe, which will definitely put Hong Kong in harm’s way.

 

I hope that society will return to order as soon as possible and I don’t want any more people to get injured in the riot. I appeal to all citizens who love this place to stay away from violence. I believe that any problem can still be resolved in Hong Kong, a civilised society, in a peaceful, rational and law-abiding manner for the overall interests of Hong Kong.

 

This is a translation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s remarks on June 12. 

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Gov’t striving for women’s rights

Gender equality in education has enabled our women to enjoy equal employment opportunities. In Hong Kong, women are protected by the same labour legislation as men are. Women now comprise nearly half of our solicitors and public accountants, compared to about one-third two decades ago. Over the same period, managerial positions in Hong Kong have gone from about 20% filled by women to 35%. Those percentages are very much similar to those in our Government. Today, more than one-third of Hong Kong civil servants at the directorate level, that is the most senior level, are women. Two decades ago, that percentage was just over 15%.

 

Still, working women do face a lot of challenges in striking a balance between their important role in their family and the development of their career. The participation rate of our female labour force last year was just under 51%; for men it was 68.5%. Clearly, we have some ways to go yet in creating a society that is as balanced in terms of careers as it is in educational opportunities.

 

As Chief Executive, I can assure you that creating a level playing field for women in business is a high priority for my Government. That’s why I proposed in my Policy Address last October a number of pro-women measures. These measures include expanding maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks, with the extra four weeks in maternity leave pay to be borne in full by the Government. We plan to introduce the amended legislation in the Legislative Council before the end of this year.

 

We are also working on a variety of measures to enhance childcare services so as to enable women with young children to take up or stay in employment. We will provide more facilities for breastfeeding, and legislative amendments to prohibit discrimination against breastfeeding have been introduced to the LegCo. We will introduce in the coming school year free cervical cancer vaccination for schoolgirls of particular age groups. We will also continue our efforts to raise the proportion of female members in statutory bodies and advisory committees, so that women’s voices will be heard in policymaking. By the way, our Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited, which runs the very important stock market in Hong Kong, is now having its first-ever Chairlady, Mrs Laura Cha. We will together call on all listed companies to appoint more females as their board members.

 

In short, we will create every opportunity we can for the women of Hong Kong. Equal opportunity, whether in work, education or any other sphere of society, is essential to creating a caring and inclusive community. And in enabling the ambitions of women – whether in Hong Kong, in Bangladesh or any other country or economy – we can ensure a thriving future for us all.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asian University for Women Gala Dinner on June 11.

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Lantau plan key to HK’s dev’t

Engineers in Hong Kong have contributed greatly to Hong Kong’s phenomenal development over the years. Using innovation, creativity, a wealth of knowledge and expertise, they have been instrumental in transforming our city from a tiny fishing village to one of the world’s most dynamic cities, with unrivalled connectivity with any place across the globe, advanced soft and hard infrastructure, as well as a pool of world-class talents to propel this international city forward.

 

This Asia’s world city is constantly changing and engineers are those behind so much of this development, from developing better water supplies, municipal sewer systems, wastewater treatment plants to the design of buildings to protect us from natural hazards and from healthcare to rapid and dramatic changes in transportation systems to improve people’s quality of life.

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government sees government expenditure as an important investment in Hong Kong’s future. Over the past 10 years, Government’s capital works expenditure has grown from $45.3 billion in 2009-10 to $78.6 billion, up by a significant 74%. This explains why Hong Kong’s performance in infrastructure is always at the forefront of the international community. We are ranked second in the world for infrastructure competitiveness by the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 of the World Economic Forum based in Switzerland.

 

Government’s annual capital works expenditure is expected to rise to over $100 billion soon. A host of capital projects ranging from public housing developments, new town projects and a major hospital development plan to the third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport are in full swing.

 

We are seeking funding approval from our Legislative Council, our parliament equivalent, to enhance and to commence studies on the phased reclamation for formation of artificial islands in central waters between Hong Kong Island and Lantau, Lantau is Hong Kong’s biggest island. The studies are one of the key initiatives of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which will be a mega development to sustain Hong Kong’s continuous growth. It is estimated that the Kau Yi Chau artificial islands under the first phase of Lantau Tomorrow Vision development will be able to provide 150,000 to 260,000 housing units, 70% of which will be public housing. The Kau Yi Chau artificial islands will also support the development of Hong Kong’s third core business district providing some 200,000 diversified employment opportunities.

 

The HKSAR Government is equally committed to conserving rural Lantau, striking a balance between development and conservation. We are seeking funding approval for the establishment of a Lantau Conservation Fund of $1 billion to support projects that will contribute to the overall conservation of rural Lantau, raise community awareness and mobilise the community to put conservation into practice.

 

Land is the essential building block for the challenges faced by Hong Kong. In the spatial context of Hong Kong, Lantau commands an unparalleled strategic location with a comprehensive air, road and rail transport network connected to other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Mainland and beyond while accessing the well-established core business area at Central speedily.

 

Creation of land for meeting housing and economic needs in Lantau will also allow a more balanced spatial distribution of population and jobs. The strategic transport facilities in support of the Lantau development can also help relieve existing transportation constraints in Northwest New Territories while enhancing connectivity between urban areas and the New Territories.

 

We are mindful that Lantau Tomorrow Vision is a mammoth and challenging project that will require enduring collaborative efforts of the entire community, including professional engineers, in the next 20 to 30 years. Engineers from different disciplines will play critical roles in the entire development process. As in the past, we look to the continuous support from professional associations like the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers for nurturing engineering experts in sustaining Hong Kong’s long-term development. The International Engineering Alliance Meeting today is indeed a shining example.

 

Speaking of visibility, the opening of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass this year is an outstanding testimony to Hong Kong’s first-rate infrastructure. The 4.5 km bypass includes a 3.7 km tunnel that connects the Rumsey Street Flyover in Central and the Island Eastern Corridor in North Point. The bypass relieves significantly the long-standing traffic problem along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island, reducing travel time between Central and North Point to only five minutes. An advanced ventilation system is installed in the tunnel to improve air quality and enhance safety of tunnel users by containing and discharging smoke inside the tunnel efficiently in case of fire. The latest effective air purification system is also set up to clean the air exhausted from the tunnel to a higher standard.

 

Last year marked the notable achievements of the engineering discipline in Hong Kong. The commissioning of the 26 km High Speed Rail (Hong Kong Section) connects Hong Kong with Mainland China’s 25,000 km national high-speed rail network, linking us up, so far, with 44 Mainland stations without interchange at 200 km per hour along the Hong Kong Section and up to 350 km per hour on the Mainland Section.

 

The 55 km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge also commenced operation last year. It is the longest bridge-tunnel system and sea crossing in the world linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau. This one-of-a-kind sea crossing comprises the 12 km Hong Kong Link Road, 29.6 km Main Bridge and approximately 13.4 km Zhuhai Link Road. It substantially cuts the travel time between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, while further connecting Hong Kong to the Greater Bay Area and cities of Guangxi Province.

 

The Greater Bay Area is an enormous market with a population of 70 million, similar to that of the UK, and generates gross domestic product of around US$1.6 trillion or the size of South Korea or Australia. As one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China, the Greater Bay Area offers boundless opportunities to Hong Kong’s world-class professional services including different disciplines of engineering services.

 

More importantly, the Greater Bay Area is an important support pillar for the mega strategic Belt & Road Initiative. Many countries along the Belt & Road corridors lack infrastructure such as railways, highways, wharfs, power grids, telecommunications networks and energy. Hong Kong’s engineering professionals are well prepared for this development given that Hong Kong and Mainland China have signed six mutual recognition agreements with architects, structural engineers, planners, material surveyors, construction surveyors and industrial surveyors.

 

Hong Kong enterprises have established close relationships with their counterparts across the boundary. We are also a hub for foreign contractors looking for opportunities on Mainland China and other places through joint ventures, representative offices, as well as mergers and acquisitions. All these advantages help strengthen Hong Kong companies to bid for major national and multinational projects and promote their professional service brands throughout the Greater Bay Area and along the Belt & Road corridors.

 

In an advanced technological world, engineers play a critical and pivotal role in turning ideas into reality, developing solutions to big technical issues. The wide range of disciplines that fall under the engineering title mean that the engineering portfolio knows no bound. We are thankful for the selfless devotion of our engineers in propelling this vibrant international city forward on all fronts over the years.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the International Engineering Alliance Meetings 2019 opening ceremony on June 10.

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Bright future for HK scientists

I am delighted to join you this afternoon for the inauguration ceremony of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences, created for today’s young scientists, designed to inspire tomorrow’s scientists.

 

We have come a long, good way in a few short years. The Hong Kong Academy of Sciences was established just three and a half years ago, making today a milestone for both the academy and its promising new chapter, the Young Academy.

 

Under the leadership of Prof Tsui Lap-chee, the Hong Kong Academy of Sciences has made significant contributions to the advancement of science and technology in Hong Kong, such as hosting the Science & Technology Innovation Summit, organising the well-received “Distinguished Master, Accomplished Students Mentorship Programme” and the “Science, the way to my future” exhibition, as well as releasing a research report on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education.

 

And now there is the Young Academy, with its 31 brilliant and ambitious young men and women. They come from six of our universities, and from a great wealth of disciplines and research areas: the biological and life sciences, public health, physics and chemistry, mathematics and engineering, textiles and clothing, just to name a few. Thanks to the solid foundation established by the Academy of Sciences, I am confident that the Young Academy will blaze a trail of science and technology to capture the imagination of our primary- and secondary-school children.

 

I am delighted to hear of the Young Academy’s involvement in the Distinguished Master, Accomplished Students Mentorship Programme as a co-organiser. The Academy of Sciences created this programme so that scientists and engineers could serve as mentors for promising senior secondary students, offering advice and direction for up to two years. I have attended the launching ceremonies for both the first and second cohorts of the programme and am much impressed by what this mentorship could offer in terms of inspiration and encouragement.

 

Gov’t initiatives

I see opportunity, too, between the Young Academy and the Government in promoting the development of science and technology. Innovation and technology (I&T), after all, is among the top policy priorities of my Government. In the past two years, we have invested more than $100 billion in I&T programmes and initiatives. These include the Innovation & Technology Fund which supports applied R&D projects that encourage scientific exploration and its commercialisation as well as additional research funding to universities.

 

My Government has also introduced tax deductions of up to 300% for local R&D work undertaken by private companies. Subject to Legislative Council approval, a $3 billion matching grant will be available to match private donations to universities in R&D. And we have launched a variety of programmes to attract, develop and retain I&T talents.

 

On the infrastructure front, stage one of the Science Park expansion, as well as an on-site InnoCell and a Data Technology Hub and Advanced Manufacturing Centre at Tseung Kwan O will all be completed before 2022. In addition, there is Cyberport 5, which will accommodate more technology companies and startups, while a Microelectronics Centre is being planned to house smart production lines in support of Industrialisation 4.0. Looking ahead, a brand new technology park will emerge at the Lok Ma Chau Loop. We have, as well, set aside $16 billion to enhance or refurbish university campus facilities and provide additional facilities essential for R&D activities. Our goal is to create an optimal teaching and research environment for university students and career R&D specialists.

 

We are also establishing two research clusters here at the Science Park, one focusing on healthcare technologies, the other on artificial intelligence and robotics. To date, we have received nearly 50 proposals from notable international universities eager to collaborate with our local post-secondary institutions. They include such top institutions as MIT, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and Institut Pasteur, just to name a few. We expect the first batch of research institutions to set up labs in the two new clusters at the Science Park before the end of this year.

 

Advancing teaching

My Government also shares the Young Academy’s goal of advancing the teaching of science and technology in Hong Kong. To that end, we have injected additional recurrent funds of at least $8.3 billion into the education sector since I assumed office in 2017. A substantial portion of that was allocated to improve basic education, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM in short, both in our primary and secondary schools. On top, we will inject another $500 million for the establishment of IT Innovation Labs and related activities in all publicly funded secondary schools. We hope to motivate student interest in science and technology in their early years, encouraging them to pursue a career in I&T.

 

Like the Young Academy, my government is equally determined to educate the public on science and technology issues. In this regard, I am grateful that the Academy of Sciences and other like-minded institutions organise awards competitions and exhibitions, as well as I&T seminars and workshops. Later this year, the Government will present InnoFest, a series of events showcasing our latest I&T achievements while promoting I&T in Hong Kong. Highlights of the InnoFest will include the first “City I&T Grand Challenge,” in which various sectors will be invited to tackle livelihood issues through I&T. Promising solutions will be tested in public organisations.

 

Scientific excellence

The Young Academy and my Government also share a determination to see Hong Kong rise as a centre of scientific excellence. The founding, last month, of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum, which connects Shaw laureates to a youth-centred, science-driven, Hong Kong-based programme, certainly demonstrates our commitment to promoting Hong Kong as an international I&T hub. As you all know, Shaw laureates are top scientists who have made outstanding international contributions in astronomy, life science and medicine, and the mathematical sciences. Of the nearly 80 Shaw laureates since the first awards in 2004, 12 are Nobel Prize winners, five are Fields Medalists and two are Abel Prize recipients. I am delighted that the majority of these outstanding laureates have already responded to my invitation and indicated their interest in participating in the first Hong Kong Laureate Forum scheduled for November 2021. It will certainly be a valuable opportunity for our brilliant youth and students to be enlightened and inspired.  

 

Talking about our brilliant students, let me say how pleased I am to learn that students of St Paul’s Primary Catholic School, under the guidance of a University of Hong Kong research team from the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, won a silver award at the 47th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva. The students’ award-winning innovation focused on a “SmartEat” education app. Other Hong Kong university research teams also fared well in Geneva, and a ceremony is being arranged to celebrate their achievements.

 

Funding support

We are working to ensure that our young scientists continue to get what they need to succeed. To that end, my Government has doubled funding support for State Key Laboratories, Hong Kong Branches of Chinese National Engineering Research Centres, Technology Transfer Offices of designated local universities and the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities.

 

I am confident, too, that our participation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will generate a continuing flow of career opportunities for Hong Kong’s young scientists and technology specialists. The Greater Bay Area, with its vast and affluent population of 71 million, presents an outsized and readily available market for the innovative products and services that our young scientists will bring to this world. In this connection, the Youth Development Commission rolled out two new funding schemes in March this year to help our young people set up their business at the innovation and entrepreneurial bases in the Greater Bay Area. Likewise, the Guangdong provincial government will extend the eligibility for subsidies and support measures which are available to Guangdong youths to young entrepreneurs from Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area.

 

In short, ladies and gentlemen, the future could not look more promising for Hong Kong scientists, including the members of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences and the many young people to be inspired by this Young Academy. My Government looks forward to working with the Young Academy, and my best wishes for the Young Academy, particularly in their essential work of inspiring, in our youth, an irrepressible passion for innovation.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences Inauguration Ceremony and Science & Technology Forum on June 9.

via Moroccan Trader Bright future for HK scientists