HK grooming aviation talent

Chief Executive CY Leung

The aviation industry has been crucial to the success of Hong Kong and its economic development. It will remain so, much more so, when the Hong Kong International Airport’s Three-Runway System is completed in about eight years’ time.

 

With infrastructure coming together, and the continuing development of the aviation industry, we will need more talent – if we are to maintain our competitiveness as a key international aviation hub. That means building up a sustainable talent pool of top-quality professionals in every aspect of aviation.

 

Our local universities are already offering programmes in aviation and aeronautical engineering, but we are certainly in need of more. That was why, in my Policy Address this year, I announced that the Airport Authority would establish a civil aviation academy to nurture aviation management talent.

 

The academy is, I am pleased to say, beginning to do so now – it will offer its first courses starting next April. And thanks to the agreement we celebrate on this occasion, the Academy and ENAC will launch an Advanced Master in Air Transport Management programme. I look forward to many more collaborations in the years to come.

 

With ENAC’s help, the academy will attract practitioners from the region as well as local students. In particular, in the Mainland of China, aviation professionals will be in rising demand as the country makes great strides in aviation and aerospace. China launched its first microgravity satellite in April, and the world’s first quantum satellite in August. And it plans to build 66 new airports over the next five years, raising the number of airports in the Mainland of China to 272.

 

Hong Kong, as the super-connector between the rest of China and the rest of the world, is well positioned to supply such talents. Under “one country, two systems”, we are part of China and enjoy the “China advantage”. And at the same time, we maintain a separate economic and social system, with a highly cosmopolitan society and worldwide connections with the international community. We are an ideal aviation hub – an aviation education hub – for students from Hong Kong, the Mainland of China, Belt & Road countries, and all over the world.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Collaboration between Hong Kong International Aviation Academy & Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile on December 16.

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Investing in biotechnology

Chief Executive CY Leung

Stem cell and regenerative medicine is at the frontier of science, boldly going where no research has gone before. In April this year, China launched its first microgravity satellite, the SJ-10, carrying in it 28 research projects. Two of them were related to stem cell research.

 

Of course, a good deal of stem cell research is trailblazing. Screening new drugs, reducing invasive procedures, developing innovative therapies, mitigating rising healthcare costs – these are all promises of stem cell and regenerative medicine.

 

And that is why stem cell research has captured the attention, and imagination, of the world. As President Bai can tell you more, stem cell and regenerative medicine is among the major goals of the “Innovation 2020” plan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

 

Here in Hong Kong, we, too, are taking bold steps to harness the vast potential of biomedical research, science, and technology. With the longest life expectancy in the world, Hong Kong certainly stands to benefit from biomedical and regenerative therapies for health conditions such as degenerative diseases.

 

This Government has put a priority on promoting innovation and technology (I&T) development – including biotechnology. We have set aside over US$2.3 billion on promoting I&T, including a US$250 million endowment to finance mid-stream research in universities. A year after the establishment of the Innovation & Technology Bureau, we are seeing good traction locally and among our international partners.

 

More and more Hong Kong-based scientists are now engaged in stem cell research. Our universities are setting up dedicated research teams and projects, building GMP stem cell facilities, and expanding collaboration with world-renowned institutes such as Stanford, Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. Some of our universities’ cell-based therapy developments are already undergoing or in the pipeline for clinical trials.

 

Hong Kong Science Park has, of course, become an important base for biotech start-ups and stem cell technology companies – “healthy ageing” happens to be one of the strategic focuses of Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation. The Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, one of Science Park’s newest members, is a result of collaboration between Hong Kong and the famed Karolinska Institutet of Sweden.

 

Such distinguished institutions, companies and talent come to Hong Kong for a good reason. We have in place a sound legal system, rich funding sources, a deep pool of talent, and well-accredited research and clinical outputs. Most importantly, we are a place where people and ideas meet, for Hong Kong enjoys the double benefits of “one country” and “two systems” – having strong connections to foreign countries and, at the same time, privileged access to the biggest population in the world. Today’s conference is a working illustration of Hong Kong’s “super-connector” role – a hub where people interact, ideas flow, and collaboration springs forth.

 

Hong Kong looks forward to strengthening ties with top overseas and Mainland research institutes, including the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine & Health and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine, to work together to advance stem cell and regenerative medicine.

 

I can assure you that the Hong Kong Government is working closely with our scientists, healthcare professionals and enterprises to do just that. Our Health & Medical Research Fund has, so far, supported 18 projects related to stem cell research. The Innovation & Technology Fund has supported applied R&D projects by universities and companies focusing on stem cells. And the Research Grants Council has committed US$33 million for higher education institutions to undertake stem cell and regenerative medicine projects.

 

Stem cell and regenerative medicine holds vast potential for the betterment of life. Working together – the Government, the academia, the industry and the community together – we can build that future. Here, in Hong Kong.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Hong Kong & Guangzhou International Conference on Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine on December 16.

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Maths boosts creativity

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

Mathematics is pivotal to the development and advancement of civilisations. Geometry provides us with the path to construct an ideal world. Number theory crystallises the human instinct to seek orders and natural laws. Algebra symbolises the structures of a vague world, making unknowns known. Combinatorics shows us the way to count and to count for favourable outcomes. These are all mathematics, and these are ideas which essentially guide our minds and thoughts to know ourselves, our society and our world.

 

Mathematics training can teach rationality, creativity and determination, which are virtues all dearly cherished by the people of Hong Kong. Rationality is the foundation of every respectful society. Here in Hong Kong, an international metropolis with over seven million people of diverse cultural, ethnic and educational backgrounds, you are bound to hear different voices representing different interests if you ask about views on any given issue. It is rationality that has enabled us to respect and resolve such differences, and find a consensus in the best interests of all.

 

While rationality underpins mutual respect and social harmony, creativity is the driving force behind progress. Hong Kong highly values original ideas, especially those from our younger generation. The people of this city have long been famous for their ingenious flexibility. We want the next generation to build on it further and let their creativity bloom. This is why we are actively promoting STEM education in schools.

 

Determination keeps us going in times of difficulties. The process of solving a mathematical problem, or any problem in life for that matter, can be rough and tough. Success only comes to those who persevere and stay in the game till the end. I would say Hong Kong people have been well trained in this regard. For a small place with so many geographical limitations to develop into a world city, people’s determination to find solutions and succeed definitely has a key role to play.

 

Engaging students in actively applying mathematics in expertly designed activities or competitions helps nurture their mind. The Hang Lung Mathematics Awards emphasises mathematical insight, creativity and originality. The research projects of the participating teams, I understand, cover a broad range of areas. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hang Lung Properties Limited and members of the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards for their dedication in promoting excellence in this discipline over the years. I would also like to thank all participating schools and teachers for their commitment and support to students learning mathematics.

 

Two years ago on this occasion, I talked about movies featuring mathematicians – John Nash in A Beautiful Mind and Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Since then, a new movie has come out – The Man Who Knew Infinity featuring Professor Hardy and Professor Ramanujan from Trinity College, Cambridge. It is interesting to note that two distinguished mathematicians, Manjul Bhargava and Ken Ono, are associate producers of this movie. Bhargava, like Professor Shing-tung Yau, is of course a winner of the Fields Medal. This brings me to the point that apart from pursuing mathematical excellence and nurturing young talents, renowned mathematicians may also consider using various forms of creative industries, including movies, to promote the understanding of mathematics, to stimulate interest and to bring this highest form of pure thought into our ordinary lives.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the 2016 Hang Lung Mathematics Awards Announcement & Awards Presentation on December 15.

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Belt-Road a business bonanza

Acting Financial Secretary Prof KC Chan

The scale of the Belt & Road initiative is unmatched, with some 65 nations on three continents championing the Belt-Road, all keen to boost trade and investment through infrastructural connectivity and policy co-ordination as well as stronger people-to-people bonds.

 

To date, more than 100 countries and organisations have shown their support, in one way or another, for this grand and visionary initiative.

 

Infrastructural connectivity is a core element of the Belt & Road initiative. Huge capital outlays will be needed to fuel the development of the twin corridors. The Asian Development Bank has estimated that Asia overall would need US$800 billion a year from now to the year 2020 for infrastructure investment.

 

The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB, is a key Belt-Road enabler in channelling funds into infrastructure projects, particularly for emerging markets. The AIIB commenced operation in January this year and so far it has already approved a total of some US$1,100 million in loans for a number of infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Myanmar, including highways, railways, ports and power plants.

 

Fund-raising centre

As the international financial centre in Asia, Hong Kong can support the AIIB in its financial and treasury functions. We also have the essential expertise, experience and connection to serve as a fund-raising and financial management centre for those big-ticket projects in the pipeline.

 

In July this year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority established the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, to serve as a designated platform to facilitate the exchange of market information and to enhance co-operation among stakeholders, with the aim of bridging funding gaps and catalysing infrastructure investment in the region.

 

I am glad to note that more than 50 organisations have joined the Office as partners. They include multilateral financial agencies and development banks, public-sector investors and asset managers, commercial and investment banks, infrastructure-project developers and operators, and professional service firms.

 

Hong Kong, of course, has an abundance of financing options that can facilitate the launch of infrastructure and investment projects along the Belt & Road region.

 

Our stock market, among the world’s largest, is now tied to the Mainland’s Shenzhen and Shanghai markets. The launch of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect earlier this month, together with the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect set up in 2014 and the Mainland-Hong Kong mutual recognition of funds arrangement, will help accelerate the opening up of China’s capital markets and provide more opportunities for investors around the world.

 

Offshore RMB hub

As trade and other economic activities along the Belt & Road corridors expand, so, too, will the demand for renminbi services. Hong Kong can respond to that demand. Hong Kong’s offshore renminbi business got going in 2004, and today we are the world’s leading offshore renminbi business hub, with a liquidity pool of some 730 billion yuan. 

 

In the first half of this year, some 70% of the world’s renminbi payment transactions were processed in Hong Kong. And Belt-Road investors have a variety of products and services to choose from here, including renminbi dim sum bonds, cross-border trade settlement and renminbi financing.

 

Given the substantial Muslim population along the Belt-Road corridors, we expect Islamic financing to grow apace as well.

 

Over the past two years, we have issued two successful sukuk, attracting strong interest from investors in the Middle East and from the world. The two issuances showcased not only Hong Kong’s financial dexterity, but also the confidence international investors have in us. And I can tell you that we are now working on a third sukuk.

 

Asset management, risk management and corporate treasury functions will also find demand as the Belt & Road gains momentum. And Hong Kong should be the beneficiary of that, thanks to our track record. Our combined fund-management business amounts to more than US$2 trillion in assets, with close to 70% of the funds sourced from overseas investors.

 

Logistical advantages

Apart from financial services, Hong Kong’s compelling advantages in logistics and professional services will further strengthen our case to be the key link for the Belt & Road economies.

 

Hong Kong is located right in the heart of Asia with a proficient and efficient logistics network. Within five hours of flying time, you can reach half the world’s population from here in Hong Kong. Each day, some 1,100 flights connect Hong Kong with hundreds of destinations around the world. And our airport and ports are among the busiest and most efficient out there.

 

Our world-class talents in accounting, architecture, urban planning, engineering management and more can certainly help meet the huge demand for high-end professional services arising from the planning, implementation and operation of the Belt & Road projects.

 

Hong Kong can also be an ideal centre for resolving potential commercial disputes arising from business collaboration. Given the Belt & Road’s multilateral design, and the size and complexity of infrastructural projects, disputes may well arise. With the rule of law and our independent judiciary, Hong Kong’s legal professionals are known to lead the field in conducting due diligence, ensuring contract enforcement and helping resolve disputes.

 

We can also help Belt & Road players manage their risks through a wide variety of insurance and derivative products.

 

In all this, and much more, we are making our case for Hong Kong’s central place in the Belt & Road. Indeed, the Government has been active at the G2G level in exploring collaboration opportunities with other economies along the Belt & Road region.

 

Missions possible

In the past 15 months, we have organised business missions to visit emerging markets along the Belt & Road such as India, Hungary, Poland, Kazakhstan, the UAE as well as Iran. During these visits, we have detailed Hong Kong’s advantages as the Belt & Road’s finance, investment and project services hub.

 

In short, we have got a lot to contribute, and we want the world to know. Today’s conference is another valuable step in that direction.

 

Acting Financial Secretary Prof KC Chan made these remarks at the Academia International Conference on Economic & Financial Co-operation on December 15.

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Investing in I&T development

Chief Executive CY Leung

The Hong Kong Awards for Industries was created to recognise the achievements of outstanding companies and people. To celebrate their vision and efforts in making Hong Kong companies better, and more competitive.

 

This is all the more important these days, with the global business environment facing so many challenges – Brexit, the impending leadership change in the United States, and the future of trade liberalisation, to name just a few.

 

Let me assure you that your Government is actively or acutely aware of these challenges, and that we have put in place a variety of support measures to help – especially small and medium-sized enterprises. These include funding schemes to help SMEs obtain financing, upgrade branding and explore new markets. Just last month, the Government launched a pilot technology voucher programme, subsidising SMEs in using technology to improve productivity and upgrade business processes.

 

Beyond these support measures, what we need – what Hong Kong needs – to ponder is how we can keep our business and city competitive in the long-term.

 

Less than two weeks ago, I spoke at two large-scale business forums held in Hong Kong: Business of Design Week, and Business of Intellectual Property Asia Forum. What is noteworthy about these two events is that they were not about Hong Kong’s traditional industries, but new, emerging sectors gaining increasing interest in the community, and that is – design, innovation and creativity – which happen to be among the seven categories of the Hong Kong Awards for Industries.

 

For Hong Kong to succeed in the 21st century, we must upgrade, transform and diversify the economy. Upgrade and transform through innovation and technology; and diversify by developing new economic sectors such as cultural and creative industries.

 

Some of you may recall that, about a year ago, the Government established the Innovation and Technology Bureau to promote I&T development. To provide more and better jobs for the Hong Kong people, especially talented young people with high creative potential.

 

But I&T is not just a new industry. It revolutionalises production processes, transforms business models, and enhances quality of products and services. Making our lives more convenient, more comfortable, and safer.

 

And that is precisely what the winners of the Hong Kong Awards for Industries have achieved, applying technology and creative solutions in such areas as construction, robotics, textiles, telecoms, health and others.

 

The Government will continue to support you – Hong Kong businesses and the Hong Kong community – in this journey towards an innovative, high-tech, and high value-added economy. Or what I prefer to call “re-industrialisation”.

 

This year, we have invested $18 billion, that is 18 billion, billion with a “b”, to drive “re-industrialisation” and I&T development, including a $500 million Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living to finance projects that make use of I&T to improve our daily life; as well as a $2 billion fund for promoting mid-stream applied research projects in universities. The Science Park has put in place cross-disciplinary platforms to promote the use of technology in innovative products, focusing on smart city, robotics and healthy ageing.

 

Meanwhile, a huge development project of $8.2 billion is underway for the Science & Technology Parks Corporation to develop an Advanced Manufacturing Centre, and a Data Technology Hub in the Tseung Kwun O Industrial Estate. The centre and the hub will be so designed as to support smart production and high-end manufacturing.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Hong Kong Awards for Industries Awards Presentation Ceremony on December 13.

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Charting the way for elderly care

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

In the beginning of this term of the HKSAR Government, we embarked on an extensive public engagement exercise on Hong Kong’s population policy. By now, I think everybody is acutely aware of our major demographic challenge, that is, Hong Kong is facing a rapidly ageing population. According to projections, the proportion of people aged 65 or above will increase from about 17% in this year to about 30 per cent in less than 20 years’ time; the population aged 75 or above will double during that same period, from 550,000 to 1.17 million. While these figures present challenges for the Government and society at large, we should embrace the demographic phenomenon with optimism, drive and commitment. Ageing should be something to be celebrated and both the Government and society at large must be more forthcoming in investing for that aspiration.

 

I am pleased to say that this positive stance towards ageing is now enshrined in the Government’s recent public consultation documents on Hong Kong 2030+ as well as the Elderly Services Programme Plan. This is, in my view, a marked improvement to previous presentation on ageing in some government publications. For example, in the Report of the Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning released in 2014, it said, “An expanding and ageing population will put pressure on social welfare and health services expenditure. … With the population ageing, the size of the labour force is set to decline, posing a threat, if not drag, on economic growth and putting pressure on government revenue.”

 

​​To be fair, the HKSAR Government has for some time been responding proactively to the challenges of an ageing population and committing more resources to supporting our senior citizens. To promote active ageing, we encourage the elderly to commute and travel, visiting grandchildren, going to outlying islands, seeing other parts of Hong Kong, etc. Such improved mobility is made possible by the Government Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme introduced by phases since 2012, or what is now called the “$2 Scheme”. Although expenditure to reimburse the public transport companies has grown to over $1 billion this year, we are gratified to see some 858,000 daily trips on average a day made by the elderly under this scheme. Mobility is also enhanced by the Universal Accessibility Programme introduced at the beginning of this term of the Government and the initiatives announced by the Chief Executive in his 2016 Policy Address to develop a more elderly-friendly city with more seats in public areas, more covered walkways, etc.

 

​To unleash the potential of our elderly, the Labour & Welfare Bureau has implemented the Opportunities for the Elderly Project, the Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project and the Elder Academy Scheme to provide relaxing and fulfilling activities to meet the different needs of the elderly. For many senior citizens who had missed the education opportunity while they were young, the Elder Academy Scheme allows them to learn in a school setting, thereby pursuing a healthy and active retirement life through lifelong learning. In the current academic year, there are about 130 Elder Academies in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions throughout the territory.

 

In my view, age should no longer be a determinant on when one should cease working. The growing trend is for the elderly to remain in the labour force for a longer period. As a matter of fact, the Labour Force Participation Rate for people aged 65 or over has increased from 5.8% in 2006 to 9.4% in 2015. For those who prefer to work on a voluntary basis, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and many NGOs are recruiting elderly volunteers, with those registered with SWD amounting to over 150,000. Seeing this potential, SWD has launched a two-year pilot project to train grandparents as child carers in home settings. The response was very enthusiastic and all the 540 training places have been taken up very quickly.

 

Inevitably, the elderly will grow older and become frail. It is the Government’s policy to promote “ageing in place, institutional care as backup”. This is in response to the aspiration of most elderly people to age in a familiar environment.

 

​​With the support of the Elderly Commission, we piloted the concept “money-following-the-user” in the provision of community and residential care. First introduced in 2013, the Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly Scheme now provides a maximum of 3,000 vouchers while the first phase of the Residential Care Service Voucher for the Elderly will be launched in the first quarter of next year. These schemes have embodied features of co-payment, choice and flexibility. Meanwhile, the Elderly Commission is tasked to formulate an Elderly Services Programme Plan to draw up a blueprint to improve the medium and long-term planning of elderly services. A set of initial recommendations have been made and the public is now being consulted.

 

In a city like Hong Kong where land and premises are always in great demand, welfare facilities are essential to meeting the needs of the elderly. We introduced the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses a few years ago. Over 40 NGOs have submitted a total of 63 projects and the proposed facilities to be built include around 9,000 purpose-built residential care places for the elderly. Through a $10 billion injection into the Lotteries Fund, there is no funding shortage to complete all these projects.

 

Death should no longer be a taboo. For those who are terminally ill, we should aim to provide the most suitable environment for them to spend their final moments. Thus, quality end-of-life care is one important aspect in a research study on healthcare services for the elderly being conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, spearheaded by Prof E K Yeoh.

 

​​While the Government will continue pressing ahead with the foregoing measures, the demographic challenges call for some new thinking. In my view, there are two areas we should put in more attention and efforts.

 

​One is the application of technology to improve the elderly’s quality of life. The research and development centres supported by the Innovation & Technology Fund have developed a number of elderly-friendly products, including wearable RFID-tagged vests to help locate the elderly suffering from dementia and a smart guiding cane to provide voice guidance for the visually impaired along tactile paving embedded with RFID tags. We have also provided support for developing free-downloadable mobile apps that provide information on elderly activities organised by some 190 elderly centres as well as cognitive training and emergency assistance for those beset with dementia.

 

Healthy ageing is one of the three over-arching cross-disciplinary platforms of the Hong Kong Science Park. At present, around 74 of the some 620 technology companies in the Hong Kong Science Park are in the biomedical technology cluster. We will introduce the $500 million Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living in the second quarter of next year to finance projects that make use of innovative ideas and technologies to improve people’s daily life, including those making life more convenient for elderly persons.

 

​​Second is enhancing cross-sector and cross-discipline collaboration. Over the years, SWD and numerous NGOs have built up an extensive network of 41 District Elderly Community Centres (DECCs) and 168 Neighbourhood Elderly Centres. With medical support, these centres could readily perform the role to provide community and home care to the elderly, thereby enabling them to remain in the community for as long as ever, while at the same time reducing the pressure on public hospitals. In this respect, I am pleased to report that a pilot Dementia Community Support Scheme funded by the Community Care Fund will be launched early next year through medical-social collaboration to provide suitable care, training and support services to those with dementia and their family at the DECCs.

 

​​Based on some overseas experiences, I believe there remains huge potential to be tapped on both scores. To this end, the HKSAR Government is discussing with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to host a summit next year with the theme “elderly and technology”. I am very pleased that this initiative has received the strong support of the Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation chaired by my former civil service colleague, Fanny Law, and Prof E K Yeoh, my former boss.

 

​A society will not be a just and compassionate one if it could not take good care of its elderly citizens who have contributed so much to its prosperity. The HKSAR Government is committed to making Hong Kong a just and compassionate society. While we have made considerable progress, much more has to be done. We need the wise counsel from experts in the relevant sectors to help us chart the way forward.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the summit on An Investment for the Celebration of Ageing on December 13.

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Talent nurtured to meet challenges

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

Established in 1985, the International Institute of Management aims to promote professional management practice at world-class standard with an international perspective. With a multi-disciplined and multi-national membership, the IIM offers continuous professional development programmes and networking opportunities to promote world-class management standards and innovative solutions for meeting challenges in the changing global environment.

 

Hong Kong as a metropolis has earned the reputation as an international financial and business centre, attracting corporations worldwide to set up offices here and drawing professionals around the globe to move to Hong Kong for new opportunities. According to a joint survey conducted by Invest Hong Kong and the Census & Statistics Department of the HKSAR Government released in October this year, the number of business operations in Hong Kong with parent companies overseas and in the Mainland of China climbed to 7,986 in 2016, compared to 7,904 a year ago.

 

As the natural gateway to Mainland China, we have been helping overseas companies to enter the China market, while assisting Chinese enterprises in going global. With the objectives of promoting the practice of professional management and enhancing the competence of leaders at all levels, IIM brings in the best international practices to organisations in the Mainland, whereby contributing to Hong Kong’s function as the “super-connector” between the Mainland and the rest of the world.

 

Hong Kong’s success is built on the pool of talents. According to the World Trade Organisation, Hong Kong is the world’s 14th largest exporter of commercial services. Locally, the services sector accounts for 93% of Hong Kong’s GDP and is the driving force of our economic growth. With Hong Kong’s development towards a knowledge-based and diversified economy, we need to enrich the pool to support and sustain such development. To ensure Hong Kong is well prepared to rise to these challenges, we have been sparing no effort to nurture our local talents and at the same time attract overseas talents through implementation of various talent admission schemes.

 

The Belt & Road initiative promulgated by Mainland China will bring a wealth of opportunities for our businesses. Our world class professional services, including financial, infrastructure development, transportation, legal and dispute resolution, information technology and environmental services sectors, are well placed to help advise, manage and provide support to any related projects in the Belt & Road countries. To seize the benefits of the initiative, the HKSAR Government has just set up the $200 million Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme, or “PASS” to support Hong Kong’s professional services sector to carry out worthwhile projects to spearhead pro-active outreaching promotion efforts and to improve service offerings.

 

In this respect, I am confident that there is much room for collaboration between PASS and IIM, which has a long history of promoting professional development and international exchanges. There are no particular restrictions on the types of projects to be funded under PASS, so I encourage IIM to put on a thinking cap and make good use of PASS in organising innovative projects for the benefit of Hong Kong professionals.

 

Hong Kong’s prominent service sectors are renowned for their international business orientation, depth of service, expertise and professionalism. For over three decades, IIM has made much contribution to our leading position in the region. I look forward to the continuous success of IIM in promoting world-class professional practice in the years to come.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the International Institute of Management Annual Dinner 2016 on December 8.

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HK well-positioned as data hub

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang

SUNeVision’s MEGA Plus Data Centre is a purpose-built data centre with a Tier-4-ready design. Its completion will further expand the data centre cluster in Tseung Kwan O.

 

Data centres are essential infrastructure for a knowledge-based digital economy. Data generates value. Businesses today are becoming more and more data-driven. With the robust growth in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and big data analytics, Hong Kong has seen strong demand for data centres in recent years. According to market forecasts, global cloud workload will more than triple from 2014 to 2019 and global data centre traffic will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 25% over the same period. As a result, global data centre capacities will more than double from 2014 to 2019.

 

Hong Kong is a prime location for setting up data centres in the Asia-Pacific region, thanks to our world-class information and communications technology infrastructure. Currently, Hong Kong has nine submarine cable systems, 17 overland cable systems connecting the four telecommunications operators in the Mainland, plus the operation of 10 satellites for external communications. Recently, we all know that Facebook and Google have announced their plan to build a new submarine cable with a capacity of 120 Tbps, connecting Hong Kong and Los Angeles directly, which is also the first direct link between Hong Kong and continental US. Upon completion in 2018, it will be the largest in capacity among all trans-Pacific cable systems.

 

Hong Kong’s pro-business environment, sound legal system and free flow of talent and information give us the competitive edge to become the region’s premier data centre hub. With our added advantages under “one country, two systems” and opportunities arising from the Mainland’s Belt & Road Initiative, Hong Kong is best positioned to develop into a regional data centre hub for hosting, storage and processing services.

 

In this regard, the Government has been promoting the development of data centres in Hong Kong under a multi-pronged approach.

 

A few years ago, the Government earmarked three hectares of land in Tseung Kwan O for high-tier data centre development. The first site, on which we are now standing or sitting, was released in 2013. We are taking steps to release the other two sites as soon as possible to meet the industry demand.

 

In addition, due to the tight land supply in Hong Kong, the Government has introduced a number of concessionary measures to encourage conversion of existing industrial buildings for data centre use, and development of high-tier data centres on existing industrial sites. Earlier this year, in light of positive market response, the Government has extended these originally time-limited concessionary measures until further notice. In addition, the Lands Department has streamlined the procedures for processing applications for these concessions.

 

Since 2011, we have set up the Data Centre Facilitation Unit under the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer to provide one-stop support to the industry, to facilitate both overseas and local companies in setting up data centres in Hong Kong. The Facilitation Unit helps liaise with relevant government departments on matters such as statutory requirements and procedures in respect of data centre development, including the conversion of existing industrial buildings and development of new data centres. Apart from streamlining administrative procedures, the Government stands ready to support the industry in adopting state-of-the-art technologies, including the adoption of multi-storey high-rise design, to optimise site development potential.

 

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang gave these remarks at the SUNeVision MEGA Plus Data Center Topping Out Ceremony on December 8.

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HK key Belt-Road link

Chief Executive CY Leung

Many of you attended the inaugural Belt & Road Summit organised by the Hong Kong Government in May. We were privileged to hear from Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, on the country’s vision behind the Belt & Road initiative, as well as how Hong Kong could contribute to this far-reaching project spanning three continents and over 60 countries. Indeed, the Chairman endorsed basically what I said at this luncheon a year ago, that Hong Kong can play a pivotal role in the implementation of the country’s Belt & Road initiative.

 

HK’s role pivotal

This initiative is, at heart, about promoting connectivity, development and progress amongst peoples and markets. And it’s not just among markets. It’s amongst peoples and markets. And Hong Kong can play a key role in all these. We are, in the words of Mr Zhang, “a key link for the Belt & Road”, and we could play a pivotal role. It’s a succinct statement from the Chairman, and one that echoes today’s topic – Hong Kong, as a super-connector that links the rest of China with the rest of the world.

 

So what does a small city like us, counting a land area of just over 1,100 square kilometres, offer to merit such faith, such confidence?

 

The answer lies in our “one country, two systems” arrangement. Hong Kong is part of China and therefore offers the “China advantage”. Our goods and services enjoy preferential access to the Mainland of China under measures such as CEPA. But unlike Mainland cities, Hong Kong offers the additional advantage of practising, so to speak, “the other system”. We have in place a separate economic and social system, a highly cosmopolitan society and worldwide business connections. We have open borders. We have open markets and we have open minds. Hong Kong is a welcoming society. And therefore, under this “one country” and “two systems” arrangement, we have the double benefits of “one country” and “two systems” – well placed to “super-connect”. To bring China together with countries around the world – including, of course, those along the Belt & Road.

 

One such area where we “super-connect” is of course financial services.

 

“Highly competitive and well capitalized, serving as a leading global hub” – and that was how Washington’s Heritage Foundation described Hong Kong’s financial services in naming Hong Kong, our city, the world’s freest economy for 22 years in a row.

 

Without capital, the Belt & Road and its massive infrastructural projects cannot leave the drawing boards. Hong Kong can make things happen, and for a host of reasons.

 

Starting with our stock market – one of the world’s largest, and one that is linked, now, with both the Shenzhen and Shanghai stock markets, following the launch of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect just two days ago.

 

And we topped the world in equity funds raised through initial public offerings last year, and again in the first 10 months of this year. There is no shortage of financing here. Not with 75 of the world’s top financial institutions in operation in the city.

 

And the success of our two sukuk issuances in the past two years displayed to the world our ability to launch Islamic financial products and manage their financing needs. That can only help us down the road, given the number of Islamic countries backing the Belt & Road.

 

RMB settlement centre

China’s currency, the renminbi, is likely to play an increasing role in financing Belt & Road projects. It helps that the International Monetary Fund added the renminbi to its Special Drawing Rights currency basket in October. Hong Kong can only gain from this. After all, we are the world’s renminbi settlement centre, with banks here accounting for 70% of global offshore renminbi payments.

 

We are also well equipped to meet demand for asset and risk management, as well as corporate treasury services from companies and financial institutions riding the Belt & Road opportunities. To make Hong Kong even more attractive in this respect, our legislature passed a law not long ago to provide tax concessions for qualified corporate treasury centres.

 

More than capital is needed to make the Belt & Road run. Professional services of all kinds will be in great demand. In this, we are blessed with a winning variety of multi-lingual, multi-talented professionals.

 

Certainly, Hong Kong knows infrastructure. Our professional services sector – architects and designers, construction planners, builders and project managers – have created, in Hong Kong, one of the world’s great cities filled with the most modern buildings and the most efficient infrastructure.

 

Our legal professionals and all the other talents needed to package deals and contracts, manage business disputes and handle investment protection and property rights are second to none.

 

To help our professionals reach out to markets outside Hong Kong, I announced in my Policy Address this year a $200 million allocation for supporting Hong Kong’s professional services. The new Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme, PASS, funded by this allocation, has just started to accept applications. We will fund non-profit making projects for increasing exchange and co-operation with professionals in external markets, and for carrying out publicity activities, research and studies to enhance the industry’s competitiveness.

 

Speaking of Hong Kong’s “super-connectivity”, logistics is clearly part of it.

 

Logistics, aviation hub

Being in the heart of Asia, and at the doorstep of the Mainland of China, Hong Kong is, perhaps quite naturally, a logistics hub. Indeed, Hong Kong is within four hours’ flight from Asia’s major markets. Half the world’s population is within five hours.

 

That explains a lot about Hong Kong’s thriving logistics industries – sea, air and land.

 

The Hong Kong Port is among the world’s busiest and most efficient. About 340 container vessel sailings a week leave Hong Kong to about 470 destinations worldwide.

 

Hong Kong International Airport, meanwhile, has been the world’s busiest in terms of international cargo. As for the passenger side, more than 100 airlines run 1,100 flights a day to 190 international destinations.

 

And we are building an even better aviation hub, moving ahead with a three-runway system. When completed, our airport will have the capacity to handle about 100 million passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo a year.

 

As for land transport, we are well into completing our section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. A journey from Hong Kong International Airport to Zhuhai will, by then, drop from four hours to about 45 minutes, boosting our cargo flow in the Pearl River Delta’s western reaches.

 

Such is our connectivity. It makes business easier for our import-export sectors. And it can play a valuable role in linking economies, businesses and projects along the Belt & Road. Among the 60 or so countries, Hong Kong has marine cargo movements with 45 of them, and air services agreements or international air transit agreements with 40.

 

And we have more to offer than just moving cargoes around. Our maritime services, for example, are well developed – ship registration, broking and chartering, finance, marine insurance, maritime law and arbitration. Over 700 companies in Hong Kong are already offering a great variety of high value-added maritime services. This October, the International Union of Marine Insurance set up its Asian hub in Hong Kong, the Union’s first offshoot outside its headquarters in Germany.

 

The Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board will formulate strategy to promote the development of high value-added maritime services on all fronts, including manpower, marketing and promotion, as well as industry development.

 

Hong Kong’s railway management expertise, I should add, is in demand all over the world. The MTRC, with which we are so familiar, runs the metro system in Stockholm, Sydney, as well as London’s future Crossrail train service, which is described, the Crossrail, as one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects today. The MTR Academy, announced in my Policy Address this year, will train railway professionals and raise the quality of local and overseas railway services. And we look forward to providing and running these infrastructural projects: the “O”, the operation, in the BOT formula – build, operate, transfer – working with the rest of the country. Building, operating and transferring these projects in Belt & Road countries.

 

And of course, Belt & Road is not just about business. It is also about promoting understanding and interaction among cultures. About building friendships between communities and peoples – particularly our young peoples.

 

Educational ties

And here is where education comes in. The Hong Kong Government has put a priority on building people-to-people ties with countries and regions along the Belt & Road, starting at the post-secondary level.

 

Last December, the Government launched the Hong Kong Scholarship for Belt & Road Students, with a focus on attracting outstanding students – starting from Indonesia – to pursue undergraduate studies in Hong Kong.

 

The plan is to gradually expand the scholarship to other Belt & Road countries. And we are doing just that. We have just extended the scheme to Malaysia, offering 10 scholarships to Malaysian students enrolled in undergraduate programmes here, beginning in the next academic year. We welcome the private sector to join us in offering Belt & Road scholarships.

 

I am glad that our Hong Kong students are now taking a greater interest in the Belt & Road, as well as the rich opportunities that Belt & Road projects offer.

 

Last month, at my invitation, Jin Liqun, President of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, visited Hong Kong to speak to university students – both local and overseas students, in the SAR Government headquarters. Quite a few of them are from Belt & Road countries. I was delighted to see them enthralled by the prospects of AIIB. Incidentally, there were about 500 such young students with us at that event. Such vigour and enthusiasm are heartening. Our young generations must not limit themselves to the borders of their home cities. They must reach out and engage the world.

 

Visionary appeal

The Belt & Road is a vast scheme – in scope, scale and diversity. To realise the promises of the Belt & Road, we need visionary strategies and efficient co-operation between the Government, business and community in Hong Kong. That was why a dedicated government office came into being some three months ago, led by our Commissioner Yvonne Choi, to advise on Belt & Road strategies and support companies and professionals in reaching out – some of those will be partnerships between Hong Kong and Mainland enterprises.

 

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority also opened an Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, IFFO, a one-stop shop for Belt & Road infrastructure investment and financing. More than 50 local, Mainland and overseas organisations have joined the Office to date as business partners.

 

And of course, Hong Kong Economic & Trade Offices overseas, including the newly opened one in Jakarta – these are economic trade offices of the Hong Kong Government, the ETOs – together with such agencies as the Trade Development Council and Invest Hong Kong, will be there to support our businesses and companies. So Hong Kong Inc should be working as a team.

 

Working together – Government, business and community – we, Hong Kong, will be the key link, the super-connector, for the Belt & Road and definitely between the Belt & Road countries and the Mainland of China. And that can only reward us all. And all means people, businesses in Hong Kong; people, businesses on the Mainland of China and overseas.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung made these remarks at the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable Luncheon on December 7.

via Moroccan Trader HK key Belt-Road link

Stock connect shows HK advantage

Chief Executive CY Leung

In August, Premier Li Keqiang announced that the State Council had approved the implementation plan for Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect. After months of preparation, we are about to witness the launch of Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

 

Following the footsteps of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, as well as the Mainland-Hong Kong mutual recognition of funds arrangement, Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect is yet another milestone in deepening mutual access between the capital markets in Hong Kong and the Mainland. Starting today, Hong Kong and overseas institutional and individual investors can trade eligible A-shares listed in Shenzhen directly through the stock market. Qualified Mainland investors, meanwhile, can trade eligible shares listed in Hong Kong through this new platform.

 

The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect is, in two ways, an enhanced version of the Shanghai counterpart. First, the scope of eligible securities is expanded. Second, there will be no aggregate quota upon its launch.

 

The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect is exemplary of Hong Kong’s combined advantages of “one country, two systems” – we are the world’s China financial capital, and at the same time China’s international financial capital. We are, indeed, a “super-connector” between the rest of China and the rest of the world.

 

And for the benefit of all. The Stock Connect will facilitate the Mainland’s capital markets reforms, and help promote the internationalisation of renminbi. As for Hong Kong, this new platform will surely attract investors eyeing opportunities in the Mainland, bolstering our position as an international financial centre and a global offshore renminbi business hub.

 

We will closely monitor the operation of the stock market, and consider what room there is to improve the mechanism and expand the scheme in an orderly manner.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect launch ceremony at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing on December 5.

via Moroccan Trader Stock connect shows HK advantage