Gov’t committed to creating inclusive society

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung

Established in 1897, the Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired has been serving with dedication, commitment, love and professionalism to the visually impaired people and students. We are glad to have Ebenezer as our close partner in nurturing our visually impaired talents. I can still recall Tsz Kwan, an alumnus of Ebenezer School who worked as an intern in my office last year when I was the Secretary for Labour & Welfare. I was deeply impressed by her. She once told me that, what a needy person requires is not sympathy, but empathy, support and equal access to opportunities. From her instructive remarks, I am sure that you can tell how Ebenezer School has been providing all-rounded, holistic education to her students. The current-term Government is committed to creating an inclusive, compassionate and caring society where disabled persons can unleash their potentials and live in a friendly environment. In this, we need Ebenezer’s continuous support and advice.

 

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Ebenezer School & Home For the Visually Impaired 120th anniversary cum Munsang crossover Ebenezer talent show on April 29.

 

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Jockey Club benefiting community

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

It gives me great pleasure to join you all here at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day.

 

I must declare upfront that I have been enjoying a happy and long association with the Hong Kong Jockey Club since 1996, when I was the Deputy Secretary for Education & Manpower. In the ensuing 20 years, my affection for the Jockey Club increasingly deepened as I moved on in my public service career to become Commissioner for Labour, Director of Education, Permanent Secretary for Economic Development & Labour and then Secretary for Labour & Welfare, before landing in my current position as Chief Secretary.

 

I am a bona fide admirer and a true fan of the Jockey Club not because I am fond of horse racing. In fact, I know little about horse racing and rarely go to the races. I am not even a member of the Jockey Club. I think highly of the Jockey Club simply because it is unambiguously committed to improving the well-being of the grassroots, the underprivileged, the disabled and the vulnerable. It is also serious about promoting education, welfare, health services, sports, arts, culture and heritage preservation. Its sense of mission in making Hong Kong a better place to live is felt across the length and breadth of this vibrant cosmopolitan and densely populated city.

 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club is therefore a shining example and a uniquely successful fusion, combining its role as a world leader in horse racing and a premiere charity and community benefactor. It is the only non-profit-making racing body committed not only to promoting horse racing per se, but also more importantly to building a truly caring, compassionate and cohesive Hong Kong.

 

Generous donations

The Jockey Club’s unwavering commitment to promoting the well-being of the community is widely known. Its long tradition of donating to charitable causes can be traced back to more than a century ago. Over the past decade, the Jockey Club has donated through its Charity Trust an average of over $2.1 billion a year to the community, supporting a wide range of projects for some 140 charitable groups and organisations. Arts and Culture, the theme of this year’s Community Day, is one of the 10 principal areas of civic and social needs served by the Charity Trust.

 

The Government’s vision is to develop Hong Kong into an international cultural metropolis with a distinct identity grounded in Chinese traditions and enriched by different cultures. We support the freedom of artistic expression and creation and efforts to foster the vibrancy and diversity of our arts and culture. We not only offer opportunities to promote public participation in arts and cultural activities, but also devote resources to help those with potential to realise their artistic talents. To create an environment conducive to the diversified and balanced development of arts and culture, government effort alone is never enough. We need the support of different sectors of the community. To this end, the Jockey Club has been a key and long-term partner of the Government in this respect.

 

The Jockey Club is a staunch supporter of Hong Kong’s arts and cultural development. As either an organiser or a sponsor, it spares no effort in funding and promoting a wide array of arts and cultural events. For example, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Le French May Arts Festival, and many major exhibitions. Most recently, it has pledged a hefty $3.5 billion to finance the capital cost of the proposed Hong Kong Palace Museum. As the current Chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, allow me to pay warmest tribute to Hong Kong Jockey Club for its generosity and unstinting support.

 

Nurturing artistic talent

Nurturing talent is the key to sustaining arts and cultural development. In this regard, the Jockey Club has provided funding support for numerous arts education and outreach programmes so as to bring arts to the whole community. One good example is the construction of the Wan Chai campus of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, which has become a leading tertiary institution in performing arts in Asia. Another example is the setting up of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund to offer talented young musicians and dancers opportunities to pursue further studies in Hong Kong and overseas.

 

Widely celebrated as Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is a place where the East meets the West, and Chinese traditions blend with modern international trends. As our community becomes increasingly aware of the importance of heritage conservation, we are most happy to see the Jockey Club’s active involvement in many of our heritage preservation projects, such as the revitalisation of the Central Police Station Compound – a cluster of declared monuments comprising the old Central Police Station, Victoria Prison and the Central Magistracy. In partnership with the Jockey Club, the Government has transformed the Compound into “Tai Kwun”, a vibrant centre for heritage, contemporary art and leisure facilities easily accessible to the public. The revitalisation and restoration work is in progress, and I very much look forward to the opening of this heritage crown jewel of Hong Kong.

 

Apart from “Tai Kwun”, the Jockey Club also provides much needed support for various projects under our Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, such as the Jockey Club Mei Ho House Hong Kong Spirit Learning Programme and the Jockey Club Blue House Studio Cultural Heritage Education Programme. The conversion of the Sheung Wan Bridges Street Market into the Hong Kong News-Expo carried out by the Journalism Education Foundation Hong Kong is also one of the revitalisation projects sponsored by the Jockey Club.

 

Preserving culture

To promote our heritage and culture, the Jockey Club has offered direct sponsorship to local communities and organisations to organise events celebrating the intangible cultural heritage, such as the Cheung Chau Jiao Festival and the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. The Jockey Club’s support is of utmost importance in ensuring that Hong Kong’s cultural heritage can be properly preserved and passed on to future generations.

 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland and the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A host of cultural and artistic activities have been and will be staged throughout the year, not only in Hong Kong but also in over 60 cities both on the Mainland and overseas. Our aim is to showcase Hong Kong’s creativity, artistic qualities and cultural heritage. In short, we wish to put over Hong Kong’s soft power.

 

Looking ahead, we will continue to solicit support from various sectors of the community with a view to further enhancing arts development and heritage preservation. We also look forward to future co-operation and partnership with the Jockey Club to foster the vibrancy of the local arts ecology and promote Hong Kong as a cultural hub of the region. Lastly, may I wish this year’s Community Day great success and every one of you a pleasant, rewarding, and prosperous afternoon. Thank you.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day on April 23.

 

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Developing Internet-driven economy

Chief Executive CY Leung

It was just 26 years ago that the world’s first website went live to the public. Two years later, the World Wide Web software entered the public domain.

 

Today, nearly half of the world’s population use the Internet in one way or another, and over two billion are using smartphones around the world.

 

In connecting us, the Internet has changed the world and everything we do, from business and finance to culture, entertainment, communications and so much more.

 

And it is only just getting going. The Internet economy is expected to grow at 8% annually for developed economies, and 16% for developing ones. In Southeast Asia alone, the Internet economy will surge to a massive US$200 billion annually in just a decade’s time.

 

HK’s innovation drive

So this year’s Internet Economy Summit is very much welcomed. It underlines Hong Kong’s commitment to technology and innovation. A key milestone was laid in November 2015, with the establishment of the Innovation & Technology Bureau to drive our I&T (innovation and technology) agenda. One that has, since then, been fuelled by our HK$18 billion investment in I&T programmes and initiatives – a centrepiece of my Policy Address last year.

 

That funding targets mid-stream research in universities, stimulates venture capital investment, nurtures startups, lays the ground for a smart city, and promotes the use of technology to improve the competitiveness of our SMEs. The funding will also support the expansion of the Hong Kong Science Park, and the building of a data technology hub in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

 

Most of these initiatives have already been rolled out. As for the remaining two – the HK$2 billion Innovation & Technology Venture Fund and the HK$500 million Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living – they will be launched by mid-year.

 

To be sure, it takes more than money to realise Hong Kong’s I&T future. Our Internet economy future.

 

Top-notch ICT infrastructure

And that, first and foremost, means technology infrastructure. We certainly enjoy a competitive edge in this regard. Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest penetration rates in mobile phone and household broadband usage. And we have one of the fastest Internet connections anywhere.

 

Our ICT infrastructure is world class. That includes a robust telecommunications network connected by ten regional and trans-Pacific submarine cable systems, as well as ten satellites for external communications, amounting to 45 terabits per second in capacity.

 

Next year, our capacity will increase by 120 terabits per second, when Google and Facebook complete a new trans-Pacific cable between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. This cable will come with enough capacity for Hong Kong to run 80 million simultaneous high-definition video calls with Los Angeles. I would say that puts us in a good position to become Asia’s data hub. As a matter of fact, many global data centre providers already, or have plans to, set up cloud computing facilities here.

 

All these are exciting news for the Internet economy, and the I&T sector in general. But what is special about Hong Kong, what gives us a niche in the I&T race, is our unique connectivity, and combined advantages under “one country, two systems”.

 

With the China advantage under “one country”, we have preferential access to not only the huge market of the Mainland of China, but also one of the world’s fastest, and biggest industrial bases. This enables our companies to turn innovations and technologies into products – quickly, and efficiently. Under “two systems”, we maintain a network with businesses, universities and research institutes around the world. So we are a super-connector – linking the rest of China with the rest of the world. We bring together all the essential elements for growing I&T – talent, technology, capital, production and market.

 

A number of internationally-renowned research institutes and investors have already turned to Hong Kong over the past year. The Karolinska Institutet, a leading medical university in the world, formally opened its Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, last October, at the Science Park. This is the first overseas centre for Karolinska in its 200-year history. Last year, as well, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology set up its first overseas Innovation Node in Hong Kong. Alibaba launched a HK$1 billion fund to support Hong Kong startups and young entrepreneurs. And Sequoia Capital committed HK$300 million for a Hong Kong X-Tech Startup Platform, partnering with several Hong Kong universities.

 

HK-SZ tech park 

The good news continues this year, with the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments agreeing to develop the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop area. This 87-hectare park, with a site area four times the size of the Science Park, will rise as a key I&T research base, attracting talent and investments from the Mainland of China and all over the world.

 

The Government will also consider offering enhanced tax deductions for I&T expenditure, encourage overseas I&T enterprises to set up business here, invest more in university R&D, develop a smart city blueprint, and promote the use of data analytics and technology solutions in business.

 

So we are making heady inroads in building a new economy, a new future for Hong Kong. One that is driven by technology, by the Internet, and by innovation.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Internet Economy Summit 2017 Main Forum on April 12.

 

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HK to ride e-commerce momentum

Chief Executive CY Leung

For companies, e-commerce is rapidly becoming the critical component for boosting both online and off-line sales. The numbers bear that out. According to eMarketer, global retail e-commerce sales will more than double, from US$1.9 trillion last year to US$4.1 trillion by 2020. The Mainland of China’s retail e-commerce sales alone will soar over the same period – from US$900 billion to US$2.4 trillion.

 

Hong Kong consumers have been somewhat less keen to shop online. Hong Kong’s e-commerce sales increased from $285 billion in 2012 to some $400 billion in 2014. But that, still, accounts for less than 5% of our total business receipts. This is, perhaps, understandable given our high population density, advanced transportation, and easily accessible shopping malls. It is no surprise that consumers find it convenient enough to just visit the stores.

 

But we are catching up. Online shopping – including cross-border online shopping – has enjoyed much greater popularity in recent years. And that makes perfect sense. After all, Hong Kong has everything in place for embracing e-commerce. Our information and communications technology is world-class. We regularly top ranking tables when it comes to Internet connection speed and household broadband penetration. On average, each Hong Konger keeps more than two mobile devices.

 

More importantly, these devices are supported by sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure, linking Hong Kong to the rest of the world through 10 regional and trans-Pacific submarine cable systems, as well as 10 satellites for external communications with 45 terabits per second in total capacity.

 

The recent decision by Facebook and Google to build a new trans-Pacific cable between Hong Kong and Los Angeles makes a clear and compelling statement about Hong Kong’s competitive position. On completion next year, the cable will increase our capacity by 120 terabits per second. That is equivalent to 80 million simultaneous high-definition video calls between Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

 

Beyond the hardware, Hong Kong is blessed with a sound legal system and the free flow of information, capital and people – all essential for the healthy growth of the e-commerce sector. And the fact that e-commerce can save on rent and storage costs, make business deals quicker and more efficient, as well as create a personalised shopping experience for consumers – makes it attractive enough for Hong Kong companies, including SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), to build up their e-commerce business.

 

My Government – one that has put innovation and technology at the forefront of our agenda – will surely support our companies and enterprises in developing e-commerce. The Technology Voucher Programme launched last year subsidises SMEs in using technological services and solutions to improve productivity. Our other initiatives – investment in start-ups, building of a smart city, promotion of use of data analytics and the Internet of Things – among others, will surely lay the ground for more businesses to take up technology and e-commerce.

 

We are also mapping out the long-term strategy for promoting e-commerce in Hong Kong. The Economic Development Commission, which I chair, has established a special expert group to look into boosting e-commerce here. I look forward to its recommendations for supporting our SMEs and helping Hong Kong take its place as a regional, even global, e-commerce hub.

 

To make that a reality, however, we need the support and the commitment of the Hong Kong business community. In that regard, today’s forum – organised by our major chambers – makes a strong statement.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Internet Economy Summit “Forging Ahead with Doing Business Online” Forum on April 11.

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Gov’t developing fintech

Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Prof KC Chan

According to Invest Hong Kong’s Startup Profiling Survey, the number of fintech startups operating in co-working spaces, incubators and accelerator programmes in Hong Kong increased from 86 to 138, or about 60% between August 2015 and August 2016.

 

In addition, during 2014 to 2016, Hong Kong attracted some US$400 million of venture capital investment in fintech companies, ahead of many regional peers. Also supported by the Fintech Facilitation Office of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), banks have been increasingly proactive in rolling out innovative products and services riding on new technologies.

 

At the same time, under the supervision of the Securities & Futures Commission, a number of companies are offering financial services that represent the principal types of fintech, including online fund distribution, robo-advice, and a fund structure that invests in the peer-to-peer loan market. The commission has also initiated an internal regtech project to actively assess technologies it can adopt to supplement its standing operations. Meanwhile, insurers are going to establish a cybersecurity platform to exchange intelligence on threats and to handle security incidences.

 

Talent is the most important asset of a financial services company. It is no different for Fintech companies. Starting from the 2017-18 academic year, local universities will launch dedicated publicly funded first-year first-degree and senior year programmes in fintech.

 

Going forward, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will focus on enhancing the local payment services ecology and establishing Hong Kong as a hub for the application and setting of standards for cutting-edge fintech. I am glad to see that the general public is increasingly receptive to new payment products and services offered by stored value facility operators. The HKMA is also planning to introduce the Faster Payment System in 2018 and to facilitate the development of new electronic and mobile payment channels for various government services.

 

The competition for fintech talent and investments is global and InvestHK will continue to showcase our unique advantages in developing fintech through organising signature fintech events like the Hong Kong Fintech Week (scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017); and to sponsor large-scale events such as Finovate Asia and the Fintech Finals 2018 conference and startup competition in Hong Kong. Through bilateral agreements with key partners, the Government, regulators and Cyberport will also strengthen co-operation with other economies to enhance market access for fintech startups in Hong Kong, and to attract startups from around the world to establish a presence here to launch their regional business. As such, a Cooperation Agreement on Fintech was already signed between the HKMA and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority in early December 2016.

 

The Government and regulators are also keen to promote the use of cutting-edge fintech. For example, the HKMA commenced just last month a research and a proof-of-concept work on central bank digital currency in collaboration with the three note-issuing banks, Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited and R3, a consortium of financial institutions and other stakeholders to explore the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT). A proof-of-concept project for trade finance has also been developed by the HKMA in collaboration with a consultancy firm and five banks in Hong Kong. It is found that DLT can help digitise paper-intensive processes, reduce the risk of fraudulent trades and duplicate financing, and improve the transparency of the entire trade finance process.

 

Last but not least, the $2 billion Innovation & Technology Venture Fund will be launched over the next few months to help bridge the funding gap for technology startups. It will jointly invest with Venture Capital funds in local innovation and technology startups to create a more vibrant ecosystem in Hong Kong.

 

Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Prof KC Chan gave these remarks at the opening of the Internet Economy Summit 2017 on April 10.

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Gov’t supports sports development

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

Since its kick-off in 1976, the Hong Kong Sevens has grown into a world famous tournament and an important annual fixture in the World Rugby Sevens Series. It is one of the most popular M Mark sporting events in Hong Kong. This year it has attracted 40 international teams and some 120,000 spectators from different parts of the world. As the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens is also designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, there is therefore a special significance this year.

 

I am most appreciative that the Rugby Union, apart from bringing us many exciting rugby competitions, is also devoted to promoting various community and charity projects through its Community Foundation. In the past few days, the foundation teamed up with the New Zealand Consulate-General in Hong Kong and the Laureus to organise a variety of community activities under the theme of “Tackling Barriers through Sports”, which have been very well received and proved to be a huge success. I am delighted to note that over 8,000 youngsters from schools, NGOs and community groups all over Hong Kong will be able to enjoy the games this year free of charge.

 

What is more exciting is that the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, one of the most prestigious international organisations, has decided to set up its regional office here in Hong Kong within the next 12 months to look after the Asian region with Hong Kong as the hub, hence, completing its establishment of regional offices on all continents across the globe. This is certainly great news for the Rugby Union as well as other local sporting organisations, which are all looking forward to stronger ties with the Laureus. This is also a great honour for Hong Kong of course. As a leading hub for financial services in Asia, Hong Kong is well placed to exert a similarly strong influence within the social context through sports in the region.

 

The Laureus is a global sports-based charity that harnesses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. A number of living legends of the sporting community are here today. Mr Li Xiaopeng, Mr Jean de Villiers and Sir Steven Redgrave are, among others, with us today. Other world-renowned athletes from Mainland China including Ms Deng Yaping, Ms Li Na, Ms Yang Yang and Mr Yao Ming are members of the Laureus World Sports Academy who serve as volunteers in taking forward the Laureus Sport for Good programme.

 

The Laureus Sport for Good has raised more than 100 million euros and supported more than 150 projects in 36 places across the world since its inception in 2000. It established its presence in Hong Kong over a decade ago. The Operation Breakthrough project, first introduced by the Hong Kong Police Force, is a good example. Since 2005, the project has been adopted by the Laureus as one of its Sport for Good projects, aiming to use sport as a means to keep young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or families away from crime and reduce juvenile delinquency in low-income and also of course immigrant communities.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to building a caring, compassionate and inclusive community. Sport is indeed a powerful tool to improve physical and mental health, reinforce positive values and help strengthen social inclusion. We share the vision of the Laureus to improve people’s lives through the power of sport and provide support to initiatives in this respect. We have a local social enterprise called RunOurCity, which is devoted to inspiring and challenging our teenagers to train for long-distance running. The Government provides support to help them expand the programme to all secondary schools in Hong Kong to encourage running to become a part of life for Hong Kong’s youths and bring positive changes to our students’ physical and mental health. Another good example is the Homeless World Cup, a sporting tournament which provides opportunities for homeless people to change their lives through rebuilding self-confidence and social network both on and off the pitch.

 

The Hong Kong Government’s policy on sports development is three-fold: first, promote sports in the community; second, support elite sports; and finally develop Hong Kong into a centre for major international sports events. As announced in the recent 2017 Policy Address by our Chief Executive, the Government will inject HK$1 billion into the Elite Athletes Development Fund to support elite sport training. To promote sports in the community, HK$20 billion will also be spent on 26 projects to develop new sports and recreation facilities or improve some of the existing ones in Hong Kong in the coming five years. In parallel, more importantly, we are proceeding at full speed with the pre-construction works for our Kai Tak Sports Park, located on the former Kai Tak airport tarmac – the most important investment of the Government in recent years in sports infrastructure occupying 28 hectares of land.  We believe that this mega and iconic sports facility will attract more major international sporting events to our Hong Kong after its completion in 2022. And by then I suppose the Rugby Sevens 2022 hopefully will be held in this stadium, with a covered stadium with air conditioning and also a seating capacity of 50,000 in Kai Tak.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the “Tackling Barriers through Sports” press briefing on April 8.

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HK embracing Belt & Road

Chief Executive CY Leung

The Belt & Road is one of the most ambitious projects in the 21st century, embracing more than 60 countries on three continents, covering 4.4 billion people, and accounting for over 30% of global economic value. It is also multifaceted, encompassing infrastructure, finance, trade, and people to people exchanges.

 

To be sure, the Belt & Road is a long-term vision, and that will drive the development of the world in the next two to three decades. Including, of course, that of Hong Kong’s.

 

When Mr Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, attended the Belt & Road Summit in Hong Kong last May, he said in his keynote speech that Hong Kong is “a key link for the Belt & Road” and that “the Central Government has made it a major policy to support Hong Kong’s participation in the Belt & Road development”.

 

In particular, the Chairman highlighted Hong Kong’s advantages in professional services – infrastructure development, financial services, engineering, consultancy, accounting, law and others. Our professionals are, after all, highly regarded not only for their professional expertise and competence, but also for their professional ethics and global connection. And we have the combined advantages under “one country, two systems” – close ties with the Mainland coupled with rich experience and expertise in working with the rest of the world.

 

All these have given Hong Kong an edge in servicing infrastructure developments – one of the five areas of connectivity under the Belt & Road initiative.

 

As China’s international financial centre and the world’s China financial centre, Hong Kong is well positioned to finance the massive infrastructure projects along the Belt & Road.

 

To start with, our stock market is one of the world’s largest, topping global ranking in equity funds raised through initial public offerings. It helps, as well, that we are the world’s largest offshore renminbi business hub, as the renminbi is likely to emerge as a key currency of exchange among Belt & Road companies and projects. It is no secret that a number of Belt & Road dedicated infrastructure funds are being established in Hong Kong, thus reinforcing our hub status in implementing infrastructure projects overseas.

 

AIIB boosts HK Belt-Road status

Our aspiration as the Belt & Road’s financing centre got a major boost, just two weeks ago, with the approval of Hong Kong’s membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB. This will put a spotlight on Hong Kong and what we can offer – project loans, bond issuance, treasury management, private equity investments and many others.

 

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, or IFFO, under the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, has built up support for the industry to invest in infrastructure projects. The IFFO now boasts some 60 members – ranging from multilateral financial agencies, development banks, private and public sector investors, to insurance companies and professional service firms – all keen to ride the wave of Belt & Road opportunities.

 

More than capital is needed to get the Belt & Road projects off the drawing board. Engineers, architects, planners, builders, project managers, consultants, operators – these are the professionals who get things up and running, who turn vision into reality.

 

And we are not exactly starting from scratch. Indeed, quite a few of our local professional firms are well established in the Belt & Road countries, including India, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, among others.

 

To help Hong Kong professionals enhance competitiveness and build connections with the Belt & Road counterparts, I announced the creation of a $200 million Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme in my Policy Address last year. The programme, now up and running, supports professionals in their exchange, co-operation and publicity activities targeting overseas markets, including those along the Belt & Road. I encourage you to take good advantage of it.

 

At your annual dinner, I talked at some length about the infrastructure projects that the Hong Kong Government is taking forward. But more than hardware, what we have been promoting to the world in the past couple of years is our expertise in managing transport facilities as well – railways, highways, ports and airports. These management services are certainly in demand in many Belt & Road countries, especially emerging economies.

 

MTR Academy benefits Belt-Road

Last year, we set up the MTR Academy, a training and research centre for the railway industry and professionals from Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and around the world. We are now in discussion with rail operators from a number of Belt & Road countries on providing training programmes for their railway professionals.

 

Last year, as well, we opened the Hong Kong International Aviation Academy to groom aviation talents. The Academy already signed an agreement with France’s National School of Civil Aviation to jointly develop an air transport management programme. More is on the way.

 

This February, the Secretary for Transport & Housing led a delegation to London and Hamburg to promote Hong Kong’s maritime services. The delegation, comprising members from the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board and the maritime sector, met with representatives of the local governments and the maritime industry to explore collaboration opportunities.

 

So Hong Kong has much to offer to the Belt & Road Initiative. And the Government will continue to support our businesses and professionals in pursuing opportunities in Belt & Road countries.

 

Last year, we set up a dedicated Belt & Road Office and appointed a commissioner. In this year’s Policy Address, I announced that we will expand the office and give it considerably more resources to execute business plans.

 

I am glad that the country’s Central Authorities have given Hong Kong full support in participating in the Belt & Road. We are discussing with the Authorities on how we can participate jointly in Belt & Road projects, and are preparing to take part in the Belt & Road Forum for International Co-operation to be held in Beijing next month.

 

Last month, Premier Li Keqiang announced in the Hong Kong & Macao section of this year’s Central Government work report the launch of a joint study to prepare a development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area. This region, at the southern tip of China, is a strategic point of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It presents ample opportunities for all the 11 cities in the region to work together. And one area of collaboration is clearly the joint exploration of overseas markets between Hong Kong and Guangdong, with Guangdong providing the construction works and Hong Kong the professional services, including contract negotiation, contract management, project management and facilities management.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Conference “Our Hub•Your Future in Belt & Road” on April 7.

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