HK an inno-tech hub

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The Centre for Clinical Innovation & Discovery and the Institute of Cancer Care at Grantham Hospital will act as a brand new platform for the translation of innovation and discovery in science and in model of care for the treatment of patients.

 

The generous donation of $1.24 billion by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust echoes the Government’s commitment to enhance our healthcare services and helps promote cross-sectoral collaboration amongst the Government, the community and academia in serving the people of Hong Kong.

 

Established back in 1957 by the then Hong Kong Anti-Tuberculosis Association (currently known as the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest & Heart Diseases Association), Grantham Hospital has been providing a wide range of services in medicine, geriatrics, palliative care and cataract surgeries.

 

The redevelopment of Grantham Hospital forms part of the Government’s $200 billion 10-year Hospital Development Plan. The hospital will be positioned as an academic ambulatory centre with a strong focus on cancer services by integrating clinical services, teaching and research activities.

 

The Centre for Clinical Innovation & Discovery and the Institute of Cancer Care to be set up in Grantham Hospital will reinforce the new role of the hospital by providing seamless cancer services from prevention, diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and survivor care. It will also serve as a training ground for clinicians and scientists to propel the development of an innovation and technology-driven healthcare model for Hong Kong.

 

I am most pleased to learn that the centre and the institute will also make available vast learning and training opportunities for research postgraduate students as well as undergraduate students in various disciplines. These new opportunities will certainly create broader career paths for our next generation. Indeed, this is in line with our policy to foster a culture of multi-faceted excellence and to provide diversified learning, training and development opportunities to younger people with different aspirations.

 

It is our vision to develop Hong Kong into an innovation and technology hub. To this end, we have attached great importance to supporting the research work conducted by the higher education sector. In 2015-16, the reported aggregate expenditure on research of the UGC (the University Grants Committee) funded universities reached $9.55 billion and the majority of the amount came from the Government, including those through the UGC, the Research Grants Council and other government sources.

 

We are also putting more resources into our world-class universities and research and development institutions to encourage midstream and applied research projects. We have injected $2 billion to launch a Midstream Research Programme for Universities to provide funding support for universities to carry out more midstream and applied research projects in key technology areas.

 

Since 2013-14, the Innovation & Technology Fund has been providing annual funding of up to $4 million for each of the technology transfer offices of the six local universities to enhance their technology transfer capabilities. We will continue the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities to assist technology start-ups established by university teams in commercialising research results.

 

Apart from the above funding schemes, we are also liaising with top research and development institutions from all over the world to promote Hong Kong as their gateway to Asia. The response has been encouraging so far.

 

Last year the Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its MIT Innovation Node in Hong Kong. It is set up to connect MIT’s celebrated technology researchers, academics and students with opportunities available in Hong Kong and the neighbouring Pearl River Delta.

 

Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, one of the world’s leading medical universities, opened its first overseas research centre in October last year at Hong Kong Science Park. The Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine will target such areas as genome editing, biomedical engineering and 3D tissue imaging.

 

What I have mentioned are just some of the highlights of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Government’s dedicated efforts to promote innovation and technology in Hong Kong. We will continue to introduce and enhance policy measures to encourage both the public and private sectors to invest in research and development. The announcement in this year’s government budget that $10 billion will be reserved to add further impetus to local innovation and technology development is a case in point.

 

On this note, I would like to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust very warmly once again for supporting the HKU Medical Faculty for the development of a holistic cancer care paradigm for Hong Kong, which marks a very important milestone for medical advancement in Hong Kong’s long-term future. I wish this unique project every success.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung made these remarks at the announcement ceremony for the establishment of the Centre for Clinical Innovation & Discovery and Institute of Cancer Care on June 28.

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United society a priority

Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam

For those who are not entirely familiar with the Hong Kong political structure, let me just explain briefly my position as the Chief Executive-elect. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China since July 1, 1997, operating under “one country, two systems”, and enjoying a high degree of autonomy under the Basic Law. The Chief Executive of the HKSAR is the head of the HKSAR and is accountable to both the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China and the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law. The Chief Executive is selected by an Election Committee and appointed by the Central People’s Government, serving a term of five years. I resigned from my position as the Chief Secretary for Administration in the current term of government to contest in the election for the Fifth Term Chief Executive, won the election on March 26 this year and will take office in just a week’s time, on July 1. Two days ago, I announced my team of Principal Officials, also appointed by the Central People’s Government upon my nomination in accordance with the Basic Law. I wish to say that as a government-in-waiting, we are excited about the many opportunities ahead that will bring Hong Kong to greater heights.

 

So when Mr Paul Cheng, one of your most senior alumnus – in age, he said, as he was a graduate in 1961 – invited me to speak at this forum just three days after Election Day, he impressed upon me that the Wharton Global Forum is one of the most appropriate channels for me to “connect” with many distinguished people who hold senior positions in the finance and technology sectors and at the same time promote Hong Kong’s financial and innovation hub status. Paul is clearly very clever as he knows well that “connectivity” is my election slogan, and finance as well as innovation are two major sectors in my economic development agenda.

 

Before I talk about my vision for Hong Kong’s financial and technology development, let me just impress upon you the strong ties between Hong Kong and the United States (US) on various fronts, and we have a great deal to learn from and offer each other. Last June, I made a nine-day fully packed official visit to the States, covering the three cities where we have an Economic & Trade Office, that is, Washington DC, New York and San Francisco, and picked up even more ideas for closer collaboration, some of which I have shared with the US Consul-General and the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

 

HK-US ties

The United States is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner. Hong Kong is America’s ninth-largest export market. Last year, Hong Kong bought US$35 billion worth of goods made in America. Taking wine as an example, since we removed all wine duties in 2008, the total value of our wine imports has quadrupled, to a record breaking HK$12 billion last year. Indeed, American wineries continue to make a significant presence in major wine fairs in Hong Kong, namely the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, Vinexpo, ProWine Asia and the Wine & Dine Festival. More amazing is that you can always enjoy fine American wine at many of our local restaurants or easily buy them at wine stores and supermarkets.

 

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city and there is a strong American presence here. According to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, some 90,000 US citizens are living in Hong Kong. Nearly 1,400 US companies operate in Hong Kong. And the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, with some 1,700 members, is the largest international chamber in the city and one of the largest American chambers outside the US.

 

Hong Kong is also a magnet for foreign capital. We were the world’s fourth-largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2016. The US, at the end of 2015, ranked seventh among the top sources of investment into Hong Kong, with a stock of over US$40 billion.

 

Thus, US citizens, US companies, US goods and capital are all alive and thriving in Hong Kong. For good reasons.

 

And here I want to give you a quote. It reads like this, “Hong Kong’s strong traditions of rule of law, low levels of corruption, and high levels of public safety make it a preferred choice for US businesses in the region.” This very strong statement of support and endorsement does not come from me. It came from the Hong Kong Policy Act Report 2016 submitted by the US Department of State to the US Congress.

 

That preference for Hong Kong as the base of American businesses for overseeing regional operations in Asia speaks, loud and clear, of the confidence US companies and global business have in Hong Kong’s enduring advantages. And let me elaborate on a few of those “enduring advantages”.

 

For business, they begin with confidence. I trust that Hong Kong rolls out a level playing field for all companies.

 

And we make it easy for people to do business. We believe, passionately, in free enterprise, in the right to make money – and keep most of it. We have a simple and low tax regime, with salaries tax kept at 15% and profits tax at 16.5%, and by the way, I intend to make our tax system more competitive by introducing a two-tiered profits tax system which will collect less from SMEs and start-ups. For the past 23 years in a row, Hong Kong has been ranked first in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. Indeed, as a result of these strengths, Hong Kong has continued her position as the world’s No. 1 in terms of economic competitiveness as evaluated by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development in its World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017.

 

Our judiciary is independent, grounded in the rule of law, and our intellectual property protection regime reassures companies from around the world. We are one of the safest cities in the world, with the crime rate in 2015 hitting 911 per 100,000 population, compared to 2,104 per 100,000 population in New York City in the same year. The number in Hong Kong has further fallen to 825 cases per 100,000 population in 2016 – a 44 year low.

 

Wharton’s Global Forum naturally inspires us all to see each other’s development in the global context. After all, we live in a global world; we trade and pursue opportunities in the global economy. The emergence of protectionism in some countries is unsettling and it is thus gratifying to know that our Nation has mapped out a clear vision for global growth – that is the Belt & Road Initiative.

 

Economic driver

The Belt & Road is one of the most ambitious initiatives 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. With time, determination and a great deal of capital, it can, I believe, become the force that drives the global economy in the 21st century.

 

China has made it a major policy to support Hong Kong’s participation in the Belt & Road development. Specifically, the Central Government will support (i) to build a platform of comprehensive services, such as accounting, design, consultancy, legal and arbitration, high added-value shipping, R&D and other professional services; (ii) to facilitate capital flows and promote Renminbi internationalisation and the development of the Belt & Road investment and financing platform; (iii) to promote cultural exchanges for greater mutual understanding among the people along the Belt & Road; and (iv) to deepen co-operation with the Mainland of China and jointly develop markets along the Belt & Road.

 

We strongly believe that Hong Kong, with our unique 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 – will be able to make important contributions to this endeavour.

 

Starting with our strongest pillar – financial services. One of the world’s major financial centres, Hong Kong is also China’s international financial centre. I am pleased to update you that Hong Kong has formally become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, earlier this month (June 7). We have the capital markets and the financial products, as well as the professional services expertise, to support the operation of the AIIB.

 

According to AIIB President Mr Jin Liqun, Asia will need about US$730 billion a year to cover infrastructure construction between 2015 and 2020. That need, he added, cannot be met by existing multilaterals. And the private sector will play a considerable role in raising funds for the Belt & Road projects.

 

For that, they can look to Hong Kong, to our capital markets and our world-class financial professionals.

 

In 2016, the Hong Kong stock market was the world’s seventh-largest in market capitalisation and first, overall, in equity funds raised through initial public offerings.

 

Bond issuance is another powerful fund-raising channel. Hong Kong’s offshore renminbi bond market – we call them “dim sum” bonds – is the largest of its kind outside the Mainland. Bolstering those bonds is Hong Kong’s RMB600 billion liquidity pool, which is also the largest outside the Mainland.

 

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority opened an Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, a one-stop shop for Belt & Road infrastructure investment and financing, with a view to facilitating co-operative efforts and efficient investments in the realisation of these projects. In just a year’s time more than 60 local, Mainland and overseas organisations have joined the Office as business partners, and we look forward to many more.

 

Of course, we also welcome companies from all over the world to take advantage of Hong Kong’s strengths as a capital formation centre, especially our unique strengths, for example, in the settlement of deals and raising of funds in renminbi. As you know, the renminbi was added to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket last year, alongside the US dollar, the euro, the yen and the pound sterling. That will surely expand the renminbi’s global reach and use.

 

Another advantage of Hong Kong is of course our international connectivity. Hong Kong International Airport, flying high since 1998, has been the world’s busiest cargo airport for the past seven years. It’s also the third-busiest international passenger airport in the world, connecting Hong Kong to about 190 destinations worldwide, including some 40 Mainland destinations.

 

While it makes Hong Kong an Asia-Pacific aviation hub today, it has nearly reached its full capacity in less than 20 years since commissioning, which is why we are developing a three-runway system for the airport. Construction works have already started in August 2016. When completed in 2024, the airport will have the capacity to handle around 100 million passengers and 9 million tonnes of cargo annually.

 

I&T strength

I now turn to Innovation & Technology (I&T), in which we have a lot more to catch up with in light of global developments as well as the amazing progress of our neighbour Shenzhen. Technological advancements in digital communication, in cloud computing, big data, robotics, biotech, financial technology, and many more, have constructively disrupted the status quo, and changed entirely the way that we live, the way that we work and communicate.

 

With the establishment of our Innovation & Technology Bureau in November 2015, we have given our R&D personnel and entrepreneurs dedicated support for enhancing the local innovation and technology ecosystem. Governmental I&T policies and programmes, with a total amount of over HK$18 billion, are being rolled out. Our I&T agenda is ambitious and well rounded, encompassing areas such as promoting more midstream research, supporting start-ups, driving “re-industrialisation”, helping SMEs upgrade and transform, encouraging the application of technology in addressing social issues, and so forth. I intend to encourage private corporations to also invest in R&D by offering tax incentives.

 

At the start of the year, I, on behalf of the HKSARG, signed a memorandum of understanding with Shenzhen to jointly develop the Lok Ma Chau Loop into the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park. The 87-hectare site is strategically situated at the boundary of Hong Kong. We plan to turn the park into a key base for scientific research, bringing together the brightest R&D talents, locally and overseas, and Shenzhen’s manufacturing capabilities. The park is set to attract leading enterprises, R&D institutions and overseas and Mainland talent.

 

When we talk about talent, nothing is more important than our investment in education, which now accounts for 21% of the HKSAR Government’s total recurrent expenditure. Hong Kong believes in education. And, as the next Chief Executive, I have promised additional recurrent funding for education even before taking office. In the first month of my office I will take a package of proposals to the Legislative Council for the voting of additional funds to improve the current situation, from improving the teacher/class ratios in primary and secondary schools to making university education more affordable.

 

Our nurturing of talent will benefit from international exchanges and co-operation. In recent years, I was involved in the establishment of two US higher education institutions in Hong Kong, namely the Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and the Savannah College of Arts & Design. It is very exciting for me to learn that the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) was set up in Beijing in March 2015. As an outpost for a premier educational institution, the PWCC provides on-the-ground support for the growing numbers of programmes and collaborations between the University of Pennsylvania and many academic, government and business partners throughout China. It represents a substantial commitment to advance a long history of engagement with China by the Wharton School and its parent university, the University of Pennsylvania, in an increasingly interconnected global environment. I hope that Hong Kong will be able to tap into this rich resource and get connected with the PWCC.

 

Finally, let me provide an update on a subject very close to my heart, that is, arts and culture. No city could claim to be a world city without offering its people and visitors rich cultural exposure and experience. In my last four and a half years as the Chief Secretary for Administration as well as Chairperson of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Authority, I visited over 30 public and private museums and performance venues during my official trips. This has given me added confidence about how the WKCD project, a cultural precinct on a prime 40-heactre waterfront site in West Kowloon, will elevate Hong Kong’s cultural status. From next year onwards, major venues will open in the WKCD, comprising the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera performances, an extensive park and waterfront promenade, a museum on contemporary visual arts called M+ and the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which showcases precious artefacts from the renowned Palace Museum in Beijing. Hardware aside, Hong Kong is also among the world’s largest art auction markets, along with New York and London. We are the regional hub for major art fairs and exhibitions, such as Art Basel Hong Kong as well as our home-grown Fine Art Asia, Art Central and Ink Asia.

 

On July 1, 2017, I will assume office as the Fifth Term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR. I firmly believe that Hong Kong has a strong base – our rule of law, our freedoms, our systems, our talents, and the unique advantages of “one country, two systems”. My election slogan is “We Connect”. My priority is to unite everyone in society and connect with our citizens to develop our economy and improve people’s livelihood. I and my government will also work hard to engage with outside parties to strengthen links between Hong Kong and the Mainland as well as other countries, with an aim to consolidate and elevate Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s world city.

 

Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam made these remarks at the Wharton Global Forum Hong Kong 2017 on June 23.

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Vocational training a big career boost

Chief Executive CY Leung

For the past 35 years, the Vocational Training Council has offered diversified choices for countless Hong Kong students and working adults, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and values they need for lifelong learning and enhanced employability.

 

So yes, the VTC – or vocational education in general – has been a critical source in addressing the manpower needs of Hong Kong’s many employers and industries. And my Government has put a priority on promoting vocational education among our youngsters.

 

In my 2014 Policy Address, I said that “mainstream education is not a straightjacket that fits all young people as everyone has his or her own interests and abilities. The Government should re-establish the positioning of vocational education in our education system and guide the younger generation in choosing their career.”

 

Indeed, as President Xi Jinping said at a national working meeting in 2014, vocational education is an important part of the national education system, as it gives young people technical and specialised skills, and promotes employment and entrepreneurship.

 

My Government has put forth a number of policy measures to promote vocational education. We have put more emphasis on professional knowledge and the professional image of vocational education – vocational education and training has now become vocational and professional education and training, or VPET in short, covering programmes up to degree level. A high percentage of the curriculum consists of specialised vocational skills or professional knowledge. The point is clear: VPET is not a second choice but, rather, entirely compatible with the traditional academic pathway.

 

We are also enhancing our financial commitment to VPET. Each year, we spend more than US$300 million on VPET. And since the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education – set up to map out a strategy for promoting vocational education – submitted its report to the Government two years ago, we have invested US$46 million on taking forward the Task Force’s recommendations, including stepping up promotion of VPET in the community.

 

In this year’s Policy Address, I announced that the Government has identified a new site for developing a VTC campus with adequate capacity and first-class facilities. We will also support the VTC to construct an Aviation & Marine Engineering Centre.

 

Today’s conference is one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Hong Kong, with our strengths in education and professional training, can contribute to our country’s education and youth development. For one, our connectivity with both the Mainland of China and the rest of the world will help foster international collaborations, and help bring together education experts – like all of you here – for discussion and experience-sharing.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Vocational & Professional Education & Training International Conference and WorldSkills Hong Kong Competition & Carnival 2017 on June 16.

 

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Regional ties key to HK’s future

Financial Secretary Paul Chan

Our success as an SAR wasn’t ordained. The road we’ve followed these last 20 years has been anything but smooth.

 

The Asian financial crisis of 1997, the burst of the global IT bubble in 2001, the pall of SARS in 2003 and the global financial crisis of 2008 – the shock waves of which reverberate still. These and more have slowed us, to be sure. But only long enough for us to find our way again, and yet again, into the global fast lane.

 

The numbers surely bear that out. Consider, for example, our per capita GDP last year. It came in at US$43,700, a cumulative real increase of some 60% over 1997. At that level, we’ve already surpassed many advanced economies, including Germany, the UK and Japan.

 

Consider too, Hong Kong’s economy. Over the past 10 years, it has grown 2.9% a year on average. That is notably higher than the corresponding 1.2% average annual growth rate for advanced economies.

 

These achievements have not gone unnoticed by the international community. Just two weeks ago, the International Institute for Management Development ranked Hong Kong the world’s most competitive economy for the second year in a row. We have also been ranked the world’s freest economy by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation for 22 years running.

 

And we are certainly off to a good start this year. First quarter results show economic growth up 4.3% year-on-year – the fastest since the second quarter of 2011. If the external risks continue to subside, our economy this year will probably perform better than our prevailing forecast of 2% to 3%.

 

Looking beyond the short term, we need to understand the underlying trends and dynamics in the global economy if we are to rise up to the challenges and grasp the opportunities.

 

The good news is that the global economy’s eastward shift continues, led by the sustained growth of the Mainland of China. As the world’s second-largest economy, the Mainland contributes more than 30 % of global economic growth in the past few years.

 

Given our deepening economic integration with the Mainland, Hong Kong is well positioned to cash in on the nation’s rapid economic rise.

 

Indeed, the Mainland’s sustained development remains the pivotal anchor of Hong Kong’s own economic development.

 

And I would say the prospects for Hong Kong look very good indeed, given the Mainland’s continuing shift towards a service-led, consumption-based, innovation-driven economy.

 

Stronger demand for professional and consumer services is likely to create substantial business opportunities for Hong Kong, a world-class services provider.

 

Regional co-operation is another variable critical to Hong Kong’s future. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area in particular, will appreciably enhance Hong Kong’s strategic role in the Mainland economy. The good news is that the bay area has become a key element of the national development strategy.

 

As the bay area’s leading international financial centre, Hong Kong has the expertise and experience – in financial, professional and business services – to help bay area companies “go global”. Hong Kong companies are well positioned to join up with Mainland companies in their pursuit of international expansion.

 

The innovation-driven upgrading of the Mainland economy also presents Hong Kong with a golden opportunity.

 

Excellent research has been coming out of our universities. Our information technology and other software infrastructure are well-established.

 

No less important, this Government has put a high priority on developing our innovation and technology sector on creating, here in Hong Kong, a regional I&T hub.

 

For example, earlier this year we signed an agreement with the Shenzhen Government to jointly develop an 87-hectare area close to our boundary with the Mainland, into a world-class innovation and technology hub. In this year’s Budget, I announced the establishment of a tax policy unit and a high level Innovation, Technology & Re-industrialisation Committee to drive our effort in this respect.

 

In short, Hong Kong is seizing the opportunities there for us.

 

In this increasingly connected world, Hong Kong has extraordinary potential to reap the benefits in strengthening our role as a super-connector.

 

This is particularly true with the Mainland’s far-reaching Belt & Road Initiative, which is now gathering momentum among more than 60 jurisdictions across three continents. All are keen to develop and deepen their connectivity – in infrastructure, trade, commerce, capital, culture and more.

 

Hong Kong, long a global model of free trade and free enterprise, has what it takes – what the Belt & Road needs – to play a critical role in its progress deep into the 21st century.

 

As China’s international financial capital, as well as the world’s China financial capital, Hong Kong is the natural connector for the Belt & Road. Alongside our financial services prowess, we have a deep pool of world-class professional and commercial services – in engineering, architecture, law, accounting, management and consulting, communications and logistics, and so much more, to serve as the Belt & Road’s hub for fundraising, for high-end professional and commercial services and infrastructure development, operation and management.

 

The initiative will surely promote the use of the renminbi in cross-border transactions, trade, investment and financing across the vast Belt-Road region. The Chinese currency’s expansion can only boost our role as the world’s offshore renminbi hub and the region’s leading financial centre.

 

Our financial links with the Mainland go well beyond the renminbi. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, launched some six months ago, followed the opening in 2014 of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. Together, they play a key role in opening up capital markets between Hong Kong and the Mainland.

 

And there is more of that on the way. The People’s Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced last month their plan to establish Bond Connect. Through Bond Connect, Hong Kong will serve as a gateway for overseas investors looking to enter the Mainland’s bond market, highlighting Hong Kong’s unrivalled role as the intermediary for capital flow between the Mainland and international markets.

 

This can only generate greater demand for Hong Kong’s related financial services. Technical preparations are in place, with a view to rolling out Bond Connect as soon as possible.

 

Hong Kong’s future will be built on such connections, in finance and trade, in the embrace of the bay area and the Belt & Road, and much more. Cumulatively, they give Hong Kong a central stake in the Mainland’s engine – the Asian engine – for global growth.

 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave these remarks at the Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the HKSAR: An Engine for Global Economic Growth forum on June 13.

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Bar Association defends legal system

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma

I extend a warm welcome to all of you on the occasion of the call to the Inner Bar of Mr Abraham Chan, on a day coinciding with the 96th birthday of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and the very day in 1840 when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. This is the first time since the rank of Senior Counsel was introduced in 1997 that only one barrister has been accorded this honour. On behalf of the Judiciary, I congratulate Mr Chan on his elevation to the rank of Senior Counsel.

 

Those present in this court are all family and friends of Mr Chan and it is right to congratulate them warmly as well. I am sure you will all be acknowledged presently, but I would like to be the first to say that without your support and love, Mr Chan would not be able to accomplish all that he has achieved so far, and to continue from his success here. I wish to mention specially Abraham’s wife, Veronica, their children and also Mr Chan’s parents, all of whom are present this morning.

 

I started practice as a barrister in Hong Kong in 1980. In the Hong Kong Bar Association’s 50th anniversary book, in the chapter “The Golden Age” by Corinne Remedios and Mohan Bharwaney, it was part of the 1980s: “Life at the Bar was exciting because the Bar was comprised of colourful characters like Albert Sanguinetti and as skeleton arguments had not yet been invented, advocacy was in its heyday: Charles Ching, Henry Litton and Patrick Yu, to name a few, were a joy for the budding barrister to watch and learn from. The ‘buds’ were ‘baby’ barristers like Audrey Eu, Joe Fok, Lawrence Lok and Geoffrey Ma.” Time may have passed extremely quickly but it is still a shock to the system to realise that Mr Chan was only two-years-old when I started my career and in secondary school when I took silk myself in 1993.

 

Even within my career in the law, there have been many changes, some of a fundamental nature. Far from a parochial or insular view of the responsibility of lawyers in former times when all that the Bar and the barristers within it concentrated on were only to do with the practice of law and their own interests, the responsibilities of all lawyers now take on a broader, community dimension. Thus, the participation in international activities has become important. This consists most relevantly not in what I call networking conferences, but in establishing genuine dialogues with overseas legal jurisdictions, either to reinforce existing relationships, such as with other Common Law jurisdictions, or to learn from systems that appear quite different to our own.

 

Domestically, I have long advocated the responsibility of all lawyers that is owed to the community in properly informing it of issues relating to the law in Hong Kong. It is perhaps not surprising that members of the public have, particularly in recent years, been given at times confusing views regarding the state of the law and how the legal system operates. It is in these circumstances that the Bar has spoken out in defence of the Hong Kong legal system by explaining to the public the importance of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Both the Bar Association and individual barristers have spoken out and I have no doubt will continue to do so. This ought not be a matter of any controversy at all, because the fundamentals of our legal system are contained in the Basic Law itself. Yet it is still important for the public to be properly informed as to these issues.

 

The importance of all this cannot really be understated. Public confidence in the courts and in the practice of law is essential to any community which has the rule of law. And public confidence comes about through being fully informed of relevant matters.

 

Mr Abraham Chan has always had this wider community-based role in mind, and I look forward eagerly in anticipation to his increased participation in this role as Senior Counsel. He has for a long time been involved in helping junior barristers and law students launch their legal careers, and recognises that just as others have made much effort and given up much time to help him when he was starting at the Bar, so he must now as a senior barrister do the same to perpetuate the finest traditions of the Bar. The fine traditions of the Bar live on in the personalities of its members, past, present and future. Mr Chan is one of them.

 

Apart from completing the requisite year’s pupillage in Hong Kong, Abraham also undertook six months’ pupillage at Brick Court Chambers in London. These are the chambers of well known judges, past and present: Lord Devlin, Lord Pearson, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Sumption among many others. Two of its members and a former pupil there – Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Hoffmann and Lord Reed – are now non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal. Mr Chan’s pupilmasters in Hong Kong were Madam Justice Lisa Wong, Mr Justice Godfrey Lam, Mr Paul Shieh, SC, and Mr Osmond Lam. Mr Chan was also a Bar Scholar. He has an impressive pedigree indeed and much to live up to. I believe he will.

 

Much of Mr Chan’s practice is devoted to public law. He has had a stellar career so far and this will continue. I have no doubt he will be a tremendous success as a Senior Counsel. Everyone wishes him the very best. Once again, I congratulate Mr Chan, his family and friends.

 

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma gave these remarks at the Ceremony for the Admission of the New Senior Counsel.

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HK developing a smart city

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

With a population density of 27,330 persons per sq km, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities. Occupying only 1,110 sq km of land, we have a population of over 7.3 million. Given the severe geographic constraints and hilly terrain, the land readily suitable for people to live and work is just 268 sq km in area or 24% of the total land area. As a metropolis with very limited land resources, Hong Kong is a perfect venue to host this world renowned conference for exchanging views and experience about sustainable urban development. Put simply, our passion and aspiration are grounded in our conviction in balanced development and our pursuit for excellence.

 

Development of a sustainable and liveable city is a multifaceted endeavour. Like many well-developed metropolitan cities in other parts of the world, Hong Kong is facing a number of changing circumstances and challenges including the evolving global and regional dynamics, a rapidly ageing population, pressing demand for housing, economic activities and community facilities, as well as a growing aspiration for more living space and better quality of life. Hong Kong needs to respond strategically to meet these challenges and tap into new opportunities.

 

The territorial development strategy we adopted is to develop Hong Kong into a liveable, competitive and sustainable Asia’s World City. To this end, we announced the Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision & Strategy Transcending 2030, a vision-driven, pragmatic and action-oriented plan, last year. The plan aims to guide Hong Kong’s development in different aspects of the built environment, from land use planning to buildings, transport and infrastructure, with a view to enhancing liveability in this densely populated city, creating capacity for sustainable growth and embracing economic challenges and opportunities.

 

Facing demographic challenges

Our population will continue to grow over the next 30 years. It will increase from about 7.3 million at present and peak at about 8.22 million in 2043 before reaching 7.81 million by 2064. Despite the growth, our population is ageing rapidly. At present, one in 6.5 persons in Hong Kong is aged 65 or above. However, in 20 years’ time, the ratio will rise to one in three. The population of the old-old, that is, elderly aged 85 or above, will rise from the current 2.2% to over 10% by 2064.

 

The demographic changes and ageing trend call for a forward-looking planning of “solution space” in Hong Kong. As we have identified various new development areas in the northern parts of the New Territories, namely Kwu Tung, Fanling North and Hung Shui Kiu, a smart city approach should be embraced to meet our needs for housing, community facilities, hospitals, infrastructure and open spaces in the long term.

 

The crux is to manage density properly and strike an appropriate balance between providing adequate housing and ensuring a liveable environment.

 

Meeting housing demand

To meet the growing demand for housing development, we have embarked on a 10-year Housing Programme with a target of providing 460,000 housing units by the year 2025-26. I should add here that, of Hong Kong’s entire population, 40% are living in government-built and heavily subsidised housing.

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government plays a proactive role in the provision of 200,000 public housing units and 80,000 subsidised housing flats, which together account for 60% of our housing development target, in the next 10 years.

 

The remaining 40% of the target will be achieved through private housing development. In the next three to four years, we expect that 96,000 units will be supplied by the primary private residential property market. Hopefully, this will dampen the property price here.

 

Conducting urban renewal

While we have a rapidly ageing population, we have an even more rapidly ageing building stock that poses health and safety risks for the community. Owners are responsible for timely maintenance of their buildings. But many of them find the relevant procedures rather daunting. To help revitalise our building stock, the Urban Renewal Authority has adopted redevelopment and rehabilitation as its core businesses since the introduction of the 2011 Urban Renewal Strategy comprising redevelopment, rehabilitation, heritage preservation and revitalisation. As at the end of last year, 62 redevelopment projects have been implemented with 712 buildings redeveloped, 12,100 households rehoused or compensated and 27,500 people benefitted.

 

To help expedite the revitalisation process, we have earmarked in this year’s government budget $300 million (US$39 million) to allow owners to participate in the Smart Tender Building Rehabilitation Facilitating Services Scheme run by the Urban Renewal Authority at a concessionary rate. It is estimated that owners of about 4,500 buildings will benefit from this initiative in the next five years.

 

Expanding healthcare system

In view of the demographic changes, especially the ageing population, there is a pressing need for us to enhance the overall capacity of our public healthcare system in order to meet the rising healthcare needs of Hong Kong.

 

To expand and upgrade healthcare facilities in a more flexible and long-term manner, we earmarked a total provision of $200 billion (US$25.8 billion) last year for the implementation of a 10-year hospital development plan. The plan will cover the redevelopment and expansion of some 11 hospitals across the territory. As for new hospital projects, an acute general hospital will be built in the Kai Tak Development Area, the site of the former Kai Tak Airport, providing an oncology centre and the first neuroscience centre in Hong Kong.

 

This vast investment in our public healthcare system will provide 5,000 additional hospital beds, representing a rise of 18%. Operating theatres will increase by 40% to 320. Specialist outpatient service capacity will also be expanded substantially by 40% from 6.8 million to 10 million attendances a year. Also, additional services for 410,000 attendances will be provided at the general outpatient clinics each year.

 

At present, the public healthcare sector still accounts for some 90% of inpatient services in Hong Kong and serves as the safety net for those in need, particularly the disadvantaged. To provide patients with more choices and offer healthcare professionals alternative career development options, we also need a dynamic and vibrant private healthcare sector.

 

Earlier this year, a new private hospital offering 500 beds has commenced services. The Government has also provided a loan of HK$4 billion for the Chinese University of Hong Kong to develop a non-profit-making private hospital. Moreover, we have allocated $10 billion (US$1.3 billion) to the Hospital Authority for setting up a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Fund to generate investment returns for funding clinical PPP programmes and initiatives.

 

To meet the rising demand for additional places for elderly and rehabilitation services, we introduced the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses in 2014 through an injection of $10 billion (US$1.3 billion) to the Lotteries Fund. Some 40 NGOs have submitted over 60 project proposals to make better use of the sites owned by them through expansion, in-situ redevelopment or new development. So far, one project has been completed, whereas three projects are scheduled to complete this year (2017-18) and two other projects in 2018-19. It is expected that the scheme will provide around 9,000 additional elderly service places and 8,000 additional rehabilitation service places.

 

Promoting green building

According to a worldwide skyscrapers database, Hong Kong is ranked first globally with over 1,300 skyscrapers, nearly double that of New York City.

 

In Hong Kong, power generation accounts for 70% of local carbon emission. Buildings in Hong Kong consume 90% of our electricity and thus account for 60% of our greenhouse gas emission. The enhancement of the environmental performance of our building stock is therefore the key to promoting a sustainable built environment.

 

To improve the environmental performance of our building stock, we have implemented a range of policies and measures including legislation, incentive programmes and government leadership.

 

While we are making good progress in rejuvenating our buildings, we have also implemented various measures to green our built environment. We have introduced legislation to require new buildings and buildings that are undergoing major retrofitting to comply with minimum energy efficiency standards in order to enhance the energy efficiency performance of buildings. Hotels and commercial buildings are further required to comply with a statutory standard to reduce heat transfer through building envelopes, thereby saving energy consumption for air-conditioning. The mandatory standards are developed with reference to the latest developments in technology and practices and are subject to regular reviews. We are also an international pioneer in requiring commercial building owners to carry out mandatory energy audits once every 10 years, and to publish the audit results.

 

To take the lead, the Government has set specific electricity reduction targets for some 8,000 government buildings or facilities and has cut electricity consumption by about 15% from 2003 to 2014, and is now working towards a further 5% saving by 2020 using 2014 as the base year. We also require all newly built government buildings to obtain at least the second highest grade under the Building Environmental Assessment Method Plus rating system – BEAM Plus in short – operated by the Hong Kong Green Building Council. Up to now, some 100 government building projects have been registered under BEAM Plus certification.

 

To encourage the private building sector to improve the performance of their buildings, we have promulgated a set of Sustainable Building Design Guidelines under which developers may obtain gross floor area (GFA) concessions in new buildings by incorporating sustainable design elements and providing eco-related information. So far, 25 million sq m and 10 million sq m of floor space have been registered and certified respectively under BEAM Plus.

 

To further promote the BEAM Plus system, we require all new private buildings to register for BEAM Plus certification in order to obtain bonus GFA for certain green features. To date, about 800 private development projects have gone through or registered for such certification.

 

The commitment and leadership demonstrated by the Government, as well as the tangible outcomes of our efforts, provide the driving force for the non-government sector to take positive actions to enhance the green performance of their buildings. Our determination to promote a sustainable built environment is further evidenced by putting the idea of hosting this world-renowned international conference in Hong Kong into action. And today, we have 1,800 experts from 55 countries across six continents gathering at this grand hall to celebrate the opening of the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 in this Asia’s world city!

 

Green space is an integral part of a liveable compact metropolis. In Hong Kong, over 443 sq km of land is designated for country parks and special areas protected by law from any development. Another 100 sq km of land is zoned conservation area, coastal protection area and sites of special scientific interest on statutory town plans.

 

Hong Kong people are privileged to enjoy convenient access to these natural assets. About 85% of our population are living within three kilometres from a country park and 90% within 400 metres from a park.

 

The city is our main activity area. We consider urban design and landscaping to be the key components of a quality urban environment. To this end, we have introduced a Greening Master Plan to develop and implement greening works for the urban areas. Within the 10 years from 2001 to 2011, we planted over 18.8 million trees across the territory.

 

Enhancing cultural facilities

Hong Kong works hard and plays hard. And we have much to offer in the form of culture, sports and leisure. We are taking big strides to establish Hong Kong as a major cultural hub.

 

The West Kowloon Cultural District, WKCD in short, is our long-term strategic investment in arts and cultural hardware to meet the growing cultural needs of the public, attract and nurture artistic talent, foster the development of creative industries, and further strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international hub of art and culture. The M+ Pavilion, the first permanent facility in WKCD, is now in operation. The completion of a host of other world-class facilities will follow. We will have the Xiqu Centre in late 2017, the Art Park including Freespace with a black box theatre and an outdoor stage from 2018 in stages, the 60,000 sq m M+ Building in 2018 and the Lyric Theatre Complex in 2021.

 

We are also seeing major infrastructure development for sports in Hong Kong. We are pressing ahead with the development of the Kai Tak Sports Park which will spread across about 28 hectares of land with key sports facilities including a 50,000-seat main stadium, a 5,000-seat public sports ground, a multi-purpose indoor sports centre with playing surface of 30 standard badminton courts and a landscaped park of more than seven hectares for the public to relax or enjoy outdoor exercise.

 

To further promote healthy living in this densely built city, we have also earmarked in this year’s Government Budget $20 billion (US$2.6 billion) for 26 sports and recreational facilities projects in the coming five years in different districts, with a view to improving health, relieving stress, encouraging active ageing and ultimately alleviating the burden on public health services.

 

The world-renowned Victoria Harbour, a precious asset to Hong Kong, is at the centre of the dense urban core. We are determined to enliven the harbourfront along the Victoria Harbour for public enjoyment. We have installed waterfront promenades in different districts and introduced new attractions on the Central harbourfront. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel has attracted over a million visitors since it was launched in 2014. The Central Harbourfront Event Space has already hosted over 185 arts, cultural and recreational events.

 

Grasping Mainland opportunities

Hong Kong is a small open economy with a large population. To sustain its development, we need to look beyond Hong Kong and have the determination and capability to go and seize opportunities.

 

To this end, we are gearing up to capitalise on our Motherland’s Belt & Road Initiative. Inspired by two legendary economic corridors of ancient times, namely the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, this visionary initiative aims to enhance policy co-ordination, connectivity, trade, financial integration and people-to-people links amongst over 60 countries. Covering 4.4 billion people and accounting for over 30% of global economic value, the Belt & Road Initiative will surely create huge and fresh opportunities for all. Last year, the Mainland of China’s direct investment in Belt & Road countries amounted to $112 billion (US$14.5 billion). Hence, we should seize these opportunities and harness the benefits brought by this initiative through active participation.

 

Given Hong Kong’s geographical location and our strengths as an international strategic financial, investment and business hub and our unique China advantage under the “one country, two systems” framework, we are well placed and well prepared to play the role of a super-connector between the Mainland of China and the rest of the world.

 

In parallel, we are preparing a development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area as announced by Premier Li Keqiang this March in the Hong Kong and Macau section of the Central Government’s work report. This bay area, an important hinterland for Hong Kong, encompasses 11 cities including Hong Kong and Macau with a total population of 66 million. The successful implementation of the plan will certainly open up more opportunities for co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland to achieve mutual benefits.

 

Hong Kong’s strategic position has enabled us to serve as an international hub for access to business opportunities in the region and also a major gateway to the Mainland of China. Well-developed infrastructure is a critical factor underpinning economic growth and strength. Since 2010, Hong Kong has been ranked top in infrastructure by the World Economic Forum for seven consecutive years, reflecting the consistently outstanding quality of its facilities across all modes of transportation.

 

Connecting the world

The Hong Kong International Airport has been the busiest cargo airport in the world for the past seven years and is the world’s third busiest international passenger airport. Half the world’s population is no more than five hours’ flying time from Hong Kong, while all of Asia’s major markets such as Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo are less than four hours’ flight away. Our airport is serviced by more than 100 airlines which operate around 1,100 flights a day, linking Hong Kong to about 190 destinations worldwide including some 50 cities in China.

 

To ensure that Hong Kong remains a regional aviation hub, the Airport Authority is building the third runway. The project will require the reclamation of 650 hectares of land. Apart from the runway, additional taxiways, ramps, passenger transport and luggage processing facilities will be built. The existing Terminal 2 will also be expanded to accommodate the additional traffic. Job opportunities will double by the time the third runway comes on stream. At the moment, 75,000 people are employed at the Chek Lap Kok island, and jobs will be doubled by the year 2028 when the new runway comes into operation.

 

Forming part of the national high-speed rail network, the 142km-long Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) will link Hong Kong with the Guangzhou South Station through Shenzhen.

 

The Hong Kong section of the XRL is about 26km-long and will run along a dedicated underground rail corridor from a new terminus at West Kowloon to the boundary near Lok Ma Chau for connection with the Mainland section of the XRL. It is our target for the Hong Kong section of XRL to commission by the third quarter next year.

 

Upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link, the journey time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong would be reduced from 100 minutes to about 50 minutes. Our aim is to achieve a “one-hour living radius”. It will take only eight hours for us to reach Shanghai and 10 hours to Beijing.

 

Commuting by public transport

Locally, the transport sector accounts for about 17% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. To improve our urban living conditions, we have developed a well-connected, comprehensive and inter-modal public transport system. Each day, about 90% of passenger trips or over 12 million trips, are taken care of by public transport.

 

For environmental and economic reasons, it is our policy to use railways as the backbone of our passenger transport system and to integrate transport and land use planning. To expand the transport infrastructure, three Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines namely the West Island Line, the Kwun Tong Line Extension and the South Island Line were commissioned in 2015 and 2016. To further enhance our network, we are now taking forward the MTR line Sha Tin to Central Link and the cross-boundary express rail link that will connect Hong Kong to the national high-speed rail grid on the Mainland. Upon their completion by 2021, our railway network will cover more than 270 km and areas inhabited by more than 70% of the population.

 

But our transport network development does not stop here. The Railway Development Strategy 2014 recommended that seven other railway projects be implemented by 2026. When these projects are completed by 2031, the total length of the railways will increase to over 300km and cover areas inhabited by 75% of the local population and 85% of workplaces of our population. The share of rail transport patronage will then rise to some 45% to 50% of public transport modes by 2031.

 

In parallel, the Government will continue to manage the private car fleet size and help reduce roadside emission in Hong Kong. A good example is the joint efforts with bus operators since 2013 on bus routes rationalisation to enhance network efficiency, ease traffic congestion and reduce roadside air pollution. Between 2013 and 2016, a total of 31 bus routes with low patronage were cancelled or merged with other routes. Some 290 routes have been truncated or had their frequencies reduced.

 

Fostering inno-tech

We also enhance connectivity and promote low-carbon lifestyle within the urban areas by other means, including promoting walkability through planning and design of the built environment and pedestrian networks, fostering a bicycle-friendly environment and promoting easy access to public transport and facilities.

 

Innovation and technology will be the key driver for global economic development. It is for this reason we set up the Innovation & Technology Bureau during this term of Government to drive our ambitious technology agenda and launch a variety of innovation and technology policies and initiatives, including supporting a $4.4 billion (US$560 million) expansion of the Hong Kong Science Park, home to some 600 technology start-ups and companies.

 

At last count, Hong Kong is home to more than 1,900 start-ups. And we are working to build on those numbers. Among other things, we have established a $2 billion (US$260 million) Innovation & Technology Venture Fund, partnering with private venture-capital funds to help finance promising local technology start-ups. We have also introduced the $500 million (US$64 million) Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living to encourage the use of innovation and technology in developing projects that bring more convenience, comfort and safety to daily living, or address the needs of specific community groups like the ageing community.

 

To give further impetus to the innovation and technology development in Hong Kong, we have announced in this year’s Government Budget that $10 billion will be reserved for this good cause.

 

We are putting more resources into our world-class universities and research and development (R&D) institutions to help boost their mid-stream applied research in key areas of technology. Also, we are liaising with top R&D institutions from all over the world, promoting Hong Kong as their gateway to Asia and, in particular, the Mainland of China. Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its MIT Innovation Node in Hong Kong. Sweden’s Karolinska institute, one of the world’s leading medical universities, opened its first overseas research centre in October 2016 at the Hong Kong Science Park. The Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine will target such areas as genome editing, biomedical engineering and 3D tissue imaging.

 

It is our vision to develop this compactly built city into an efficient, practical and smart metropolis. We have designated Kowloon East as our testing ground for the smart city initiative. Kowloon East comprises the Kai Tak development area and the regeneration of two adjacent former industrial areas – Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. We aim to transform the district into a sustainable business core that befits the concept of sustainability by making use of smart data and technology, creating a low-carbon green community and enhancing walkability and mobility, improving resource management and promoting social vibrancy.

 

We are studying the formulation of a Smart City Development Blueprint for Hong Kong, which will map out short, medium and long-term measures up to 2030 to develop Hong Kong into a smart city. Making our city smart is essential for achieving a sustainable built environment in terms of low-carbon emission and high-energy efficiency.

 

Tackling climate change

While we are committed to developing Hong Kong into a liveable city in a sustainable manner, we have not lost sight of the need to address the impact of extreme weather conditions caused by climate change on our society, our economy as well as our daily life.

 

As the historic Paris Agreement came into effect last November, the Government has set up a high-level Steering Committee on Climate Change. The steering committee is chaired by me (the Chief Secretary for Administration) and comprises all ministers in the Government – every one of them – all 13 Secretaries are involved in this steering committee. We mobilise everybody, join hands to co-ordinate efforts in combating climate change and achieving carbon reduction targets.

 

Indeed, climate change has all along been placed high on the HKSAR Government’s policy agenda. In 2015, we announced the Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong, with a target of reducing our energy intensity by 40% by 2025 through a series of measures covering economic, regulatory, educational and social aspects.

 

The steering committee launched the Hong Kong Climate Action Plan 2030+ earlier this year and set a new target of reducing carbon intensity by 65%-70% by 2030 compared with the 2005 level, which is equivalent to an absolute reduction of 26% to 36% or 3.3 to 3.8 tonnes in per capita emissions by 2030. This is a rather ambitious target reflecting clearly our determination to tackle the global issue of climate change head-on.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong.

via Moroccan Trader HK developing a smart city

Gov’t committed to green building

Chief Executive CY Leung

Sustainable building is not just about buildings. It is also about creating a green and liveable neighbourhood through smart urban planning, innovative building design, and integration of eco-friendly technology.

 

You will find Hong Kong an interesting place – perhaps the perfect place – to experience the challenges and solutions in creating a sustainable built environment. For we are one of the densest, most dynamic urban environments in the world. Our landscape is mountainous with limited buildable space. We have a deep harbour in the middle of our city. And we have a population of more than seven million people.

 

Creating a sustainable built environment in such compact space does come with challenges. But let me just say that constraints are, sometimes, a blessing in disguise. In our case, the constraints have served to inspire. To drive us towards innovation. Our planners, engineers, architects, surveyors and other professionals have risen to the physical challenges.

 

Some of you may know that Hong Kong – back in the 1950s – was the first in the world to implement a seawater flushing system across the city. That solution was a response to the lack of local fresh water supply back then. Today, about 80% of our population is covered by the seawater flushing system. That system, by the way, is eco-friendly – we conserve more than 700,000 cubic metres of potable water each and every day.

 

Environmental protection is part and parcel of a sustainable built environment. I am glad to report that Hong Kong is well on track to reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy efficiency and green building.

 

Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+, released earlier this year, sets out our new carbon-emission reduction target and the plans for meeting it. By 2030, we aim to reduce Hong Kong’s carbon intensity by 65 to 70% from the 2005 level.

 

Buildings account for 60% of our carbon emissions. So promoting green building is a practical and effective way of achieving our reduction target.

 

My Government has built in statutory requirements and economic incentives to encourage the private sector to adopt green building practices. We are grateful to the Hong Kong Green Building Council for showing the way to sustainable building, with its BEAM-Plus green building assessment scheme in place.

 

And I am pleased to say that the Government is leading by example. We are adopting energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in government buildings.

 

Last December, the Hong Kong Green Building Council introduced BEAM-Plus Neighbourhood, which assesses the sustainability performance of building clusters. This of course, reflects this year’s conference theme. We should extend the green building concept to encompass district-wide considerations – smart urban planning, micro-climates, connectivity and others. Indeed, the Hong Kong Government is now working on a new development strategy – the Hong Kong 2030+ study – to build Hong Kong into a sustainable, green and low-carbon city.

 

One of the notable features of Hong Kong as a sustainable city is the integrated public transport system. We integrate the different modes of public transport, often along and around our mass transit railway system to enhance complementarity. We also integrate housing, office and retail projects with railway stations and public transport terminals. As a result, we have been able to contain the private car ownership rate to 71 per 1,000 population, as compared to 147 in Singapore, 310 in Japan and 562 in Australia.

 

The effectiveness of our railway network is also borne out by the increasing coverage of the services of our mass transit railway corporation – the MTRCL – outside Hong Kong. When the corporation takes over the operation of the new lines in England, Beijing and Sydney, its overseas network will count more than 2,000km.

 

Hong Kong, an active member of the global community, is committed to sharing our experiences with the world.

 

And that includes the other 660 cities in China. In particular, we will step up co-operation with the other 10 cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area. These cities are among the most prosperous ones in China, and are undergoing rapid development in recent years.

 

Hong Kong can contribute, as well, to a green built environment in countries along the Belt & Road – which is an initiative by China to enhance connectivity and co-operation among 60-plus countries on three continents. Hong Kong can, for example, introduce the use of low-carbon technology and construction materials, and help set green building standards and practices. I should add that Hong Kong firms and professionals have already been engaged in various construction and design projects in Belt & Road countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and India.

 

It is through international co-operation that the global movement of sustainable building will find continuing momentum. And it is through such global initiatives as the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference that we will move forward.

 

Let us continue to work together, to plant the ideas and the projects, the partnerships and the collaborations, that will bring sustainability to our children, and the planet that they will inherit.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong.

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