Law revision plugs legal loophole

Should somebody get away with murder? Or rape? I believe everyone would agree that people who commit such serious crime should face justice.

 

That is the question many people in Hong Kong have been asking since a homicide case involving a Hong Kong resident suspected of murdering another Hong Kong resident in Taiwan and then returning to Hong Kong.

 

Not surprisingly, the Taiwan side has already asked Hong Kong to surrender the alleged killer so this person can face justice. But, Hong Kong does not have any agreement with Taiwan that would allow us to provide such legal assistance or to surrender the suspect.

 

This case has highlighted a serious legal loophole that can allow offenders of serious crimes to escape justice.

 

This is why the Security Bureau submitted a proposal to the Legislative Council on 15 February 2019 to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance.

 

The Security Bureau’s proposal would allow Hong Kong to handle requests for assistance and surrender of offenders on a case-by-case basis with any place with which Hong Kong has not signed a long-term agreement. The proposal will apply the same standard to any place under the principle of mutual respect.

 

Such case-based surrenders are transitional and special arrangements to plug the present loophole. Long-term agreements remain our principal arrangement for the surrender of fugitive offenders.

 

At present, existing laws do not allow them to be applied to other parts of China outside of Hong Kong. Thus, we should remove this restriction to enable Hong Kong to handle requests on a case-by-case basis with any place in the world.

 

The Government’s proposal makes reference to the laws and practices adopted by other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Canada. The proposal would allow the Chief Executive to issue a certificate to trigger the legal procedures for a suspect to be sent to court for a hearing and decision. Such a certificate is issued by the Secretary of State in the UK or the Foreign Minister in Canada.

 

Human rights safeguarded
Our proposed case-by-case arrangement will retain and apply all human rights safeguards under the present the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance which has operated smoothly and without incident for over 21 years. These safeguards draw on the model template of the United Nations and international practices and include the following:

 

the act, if committed in Hong Kong, must also constitute a criminal offence in Hong Kong; the offence must be among the 46 serious offences descriptions specified in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance; no surrender shall be made if death penalty imposed on the person concerned will be carried out; no surrender shall be made for any political offences (irrespective of how the offences are described in the request) no surrender shall be made if the request, though purporting to be made on account of any offences, is in fact made on account of political opinions, race, religion or nationality; no surrender shall be made if the person concerned might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his political opinions, race, religion or nationality. 

The executive authorities and the court will stringently perform their gate-keeping roles respectively. First, the executive authorities will immediately refuse a request if it is considered the requesting party fails to fulfill the safeguards or requirements prescribed in the ordinance. Second, when the executive authorities consider the request should be accepted, the suspect will then be sent to court for a hearing in open court. If the court finds that any human rights safeguards under the ordinance have been violated or the evidence available is insufficient to justify the issuance of an order of committal, it will release the suspect at once and the executive authorities cannot make the surrender.

 

Practically, when receiving a request Hong Kong will, if all legal provisions and human rights safeguards are complied with, ask the requesting party to sign a surrender arrangement for that case under which various undertakings and requirements will be made. These include: prosecution will be made only on the charges mentioned in the arrangement and no more, and sufficient evidence will be provided to the court for its consideration on whether the issuance of an order of committal is justified; the person concerned will not be transferred to a third place; death penalty will not be imposed or carried out; and any extra requirements made by Hong Kong in addition to those set out in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, such as the right to legal representation as prescribed by the law, visits by lawyers and family members according to the law, etc. The Chief Executive may then consider issuing a certificate to trigger the procedures and send the case to the court for hearing.

 

During the hearing, the suspect has the right to challenge the surrender on any grounds including political persecution, that the alleged offences are camouflaged by the requesting party, etc.. He may also apply for habeas corpus. He has his right to appeal all the way to the Court of Final Appeal. Our courts have abundant experience handling surrender cases over the past 21. They have always been fair and just. We trust their professionalism.

 

Bringing fugitives to justice
The proposed amendments aim at not only handling the Taiwan homicide case but also plugging the legal loophole, so that offenders of serious crimes can no longer escape the long arm of the law, which is now possible because of a lack of long-term agreements. With the amendments, Hong Kong will be able to co-operate with any place in the world, based on the same standard and principle of mutual respect, to ensure that offenders of serious crimes are brought to justice.

 

The whole process will be pragmatic and consider only the merits of that particular case. This will help ensure that Hong Kong will not become a haven for fugitive offenders (murderers, rapists etc.) who can live among us and, by extension, pose a threat to personal and public safety.

 

Some people in Hong Kong have fomenting negative sentiment about our proposals for political reasons which, if successful, will mean we cannot surrender the accused person to face justice in Taiwan. I am saddened and disappointed by these political motives, which only serve to undermine the rule of law and the quest for justice.

 

For the sake of justice, we must act now and quickly so that the Taiwan homicide case can be handled according to the law and we can plug this legal loophole. The Security Bureau is now collecting views to refine the amendment provisions, after which we will submit the bill to LegCo for scrutiny as soon as possible.

 

This op-ed piece from Secretary for Security John Lee was published in local newspapers on February 28.

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HK must unite to face challenges

I remember that one morning when I settled my bill at a cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style café) in Hung Hom, the cashier lady told me that as the mother of a mentally-handicapped child, she was acutely aware how inadequate the support was and hoped that the Government would provide more care homes for people with disabilities.

 

On another occasion, a girl from a grass-roots family attended a function in my official residence. Her mother told me that she had made use of the $2,000 school expenses allowance for needy students introduced last year to enrol her child in an interest class outside school to develop her potential. She hoped the allowance would be granted again this year.

 

In recent months, I also exchanged ideas with public healthcare personnel on a number of occasions. I gained insight into the problems they faced, and heard their suggestions on how to improve healthcare services. From these encounters, I was greatly inspired by the aspirations and strong hopes of the people I met, and deeply moved by their sincerity and candidness.

 

I set off from the bottom of my heart and listen with care. The opportunity to put forward measures that meet people’s needs and expectations is what drives me in preparing this Budget.

 

However, resources are not infinite and trade-offs are inevitable. The Government has to prioritise its policy initiatives by taking into account the interests of all. No matter how many resources we put into solving problems, solutions do not happen overnight. This is especially true for difficult problems that have beset our community for many years. But I firmly believe that challenges are meant to be overcome as long as we devote resources and tackle them step by step.

 

Only with adequate resources can we improve services and enhance people’s quality of life. We must continue to leverage our edges and seize opportunities to promote a diversified economy. Now that the economic environment is fraught with uncertainties and challenges, we must get ourselves well prepared.

 

Hard-working and flexible, Hong Kong people have weathered tough times and grown tougher. With confidence, hope and concerted efforts, we will definitely be able to see the sunshine through the clouds!

Financial Secretary Paul Chan made these remarks to conclude his 2019-20 Budget speech on February 27.

 

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FS delivers 2019-20 Budget

This is the second Budget of the current-term Government, my third since I became Financial Secretary. It has been prepared against the backdrop of profound changes in the global political and economic landscape, a complicated and volatile external environment and heightened uncertainties.

 

As a small and totally open economy, Hong Kong has been susceptible to economic headwinds over the past few months, as evidenced by notable slackening growth and diminishing confidence of enterprises in the future outlook. Under such circumstances, it is all the more important for us to have a sound judgement of the prevailing global political and economic landscape, and set the direction for Hong Kong’s economic development with due regard to our own strengths. I will take this opportunity to share my views in the Budget.

 

Every cloud has a silver lining. Even though we are not out of the woods yet, we have every confidence in our future.

 

Given the public and the business community’s concerns about Hong Kong’s economic outlook, I prepared this year’s Budget along the direction of “supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stabilising the economy, strengthening livelihoods”. In fact, to support the implementation of various measures, including those proposed in the Policy Address, I will provide new resources ready for use of about $150 billion in this Budget, with additional resources earmarked for various purposes. This demonstrates our determination to enhance public services, support enterprises, relieve people’s burden and invest for the future. Resources will be allocated as appropriate to support these measures.

 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan made these remarks while delivering the 2019-20 Budget on February 27.

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Developing I&T a priority

Technology innovation can help improve product design as well as service delivery. Nowadays, the application of augmented reality (AR) as a virtual fitting room provides an enjoyable shopping experience. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in conducting quality checks before product launch to market, and customer behaviour analysis at backend, also facilitate the design and production of products to cater for customers of different taste and style, which in turn leads to a personalised and sustainable industry.

      

I am therefore very glad that the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Royal College of Art, both of which are renowned institutions in art and design, will build on the work of their existing interdisciplinary research at the interface of design and technology, and further their co-operation for the benefit of society. The strategic partnership will integrate and enhance the development of the relevant research fields. It will also help nurture more local talent in multiple disciplines in the pursuit of real-world challenges, and transform research into practical application.

      

Developing Hong Kong into an innovation and technology (I&T) hub has been a priority policy area of my Government. And since I assumed office in July 2017, we have devoted significant resources of over $78 billion to strengthen Hong Kong’s I&T ecosystem and stimulate research and development (R&D) activities. I have set out eight major areas to step up efforts in promoting innovation and technology at the beginning of my term, and some significant measures have already been put in place. For example, a super tax deduction of up to 300% for R&D expenditure incurred by private enterprises has taken effect from the current tax year. We have launched the Technology Talent Admission Scheme to facilitate talent admission from outside Hong Kong and the Technology Talent Scheme comprising the Postdoctoral Hub Programme and the Re-industrialisation & Technology Training Programme to nurture local talents.

      

To enhance our research and development capability, we strive to strengthen collaboration with top-notch scientific research institutions in the world. We have set aside $10 billion for setting up two research clusters in the Hong Kong Science Park – one for healthcare technologies, namely the Health@InnoHK cluster; the other for AI and robotics technologies, that is the AIR@InnoHK cluster. Through this initiative, we can capitalise on the strengths of our local universities and attract world-acclaimed universities and research institutions to collaborate with us. I am very encouraged by the overwhelming response from the global research community.

      

I believe the collaborative team of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Royal College of Art will find in Hong Kong the appeal of time-tested legal system, robust intellectual property protection, strong financial sector that could support commercialisation of R&D results, as well as the distinctive “East-meets-West” culture which sparks creative inspiration. I wish the collaboration a great success.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony between the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Royal College of Art on establishing the Artificial Intelligence Design Laboratory on February 26.

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HK committed to smart city dev’t

It is my honour to join you all today to witness the launch of the Future-Ready Talent Incubation Programme, a very meaningful ceremony.

 

I am most delighted to note that the inauguration of this important programme has gathered together some of the most prominent experts from the innovation-driven and smart city technology industries, trade associations and renowned innovation and technology institutions in Hong Kong, who will share with us in just a moment their valuable experience and astute insights in nurturing talents for the development of a smart city.

 

The Future-ready Talent Incubation Programme is a three-year pilot upskilling programme sponsored by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation for Higher Diploma students of the Vocational Training Council. It aims to address the manpower needs across the entire value chain of Vocational & Professional Education & Training in targeted career streams. These career streams, including data analytics and artificial intelligence, IT security, cloud computing, smart/intelligence application, immersive and digital media technologies, and financial technology, are innovation-driven and smart city technology-related, thereby meeting the new skills and IT competence demanded by industries of different sectors. I am most pleased to note that the donation from the foundation, amounting to $11.7 million, is the largest grant given by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation ever in Hong Kong and one of the largest grants in Asia Pacific.

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a smart city with a view to raising the quality of life of the community. We published the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong back in December 2017, which sets out more than 70 initiatives including the three smart city infrastructure projects, namely, the eID, the pilot Multi-functional Smart Lampposts Scheme, and the Next Generation Government Cloud and Big Data Analytics Platform. We will invest more than $900 million to propel these three projects forward.

 

Indeed, over the past three years since the establishment of the Innovation & Technology Bureau, the Government has invested over $100 billion into I&T to propel Hong Kong’s smart city development forward.

 

For all these initiatives to come to fruition, it is of paramount importance that our manpower development efforts can keep up with the growing demand for top talents. The HKSAR Government accords high priority to education through heavy investment in education manpower, funding schemes and hardware improvement. In the 2018-19 financial year, the estimated total recurrent expenditure on education amounts to $84.6 billion, which accounts for about 21% of the Government’s total recurrent expenditure and takes up the lion share among all policy areas.

 

Above all, we see Vocational & Professional Education & Training, VPET, as an indispensable player in maintaining a versatile talent pool for the sustainable social and economic development of Hong Kong, and in keeping us ahead of other economies in smart city development. VPET focuses not only on technical education and practical training, but also whole person development, skills development and international exposure. It seeks to equip students with the capabilities to rise to challenges in pursuit of their goals and to live up to the expectation of becoming young leaders in their chosen fields.

 

To create the best possible learning environment for VPET students and pave the way for their future career development, the VTC has launched a number of flagship projects over the years. The HKSAR Government will continue to support the Council’s efforts including providing VPET students with state-of-the-art learning facilities, such as the plan for a new multi-disciplinary campus in Cha Kwo Ling that features world-class hardware that is made-to-measure for the purposes of manpower development. We have also introduced the Earn and Learn schemes to provide paid workplace attachments for VPET students in industries which require specialised skills to allow them to apply the knowledge learned and help them gain real life experience while receiving a reasonable monthly subsidy.

 

We need support from all sectors across the community to shape our young people to become smart city dwellers. The generous support from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to make this meaningful programme possible is indeed a shining example of corporate social responsibility. I would also like to thank the Vocational Training Council for their tireless efforts in nurturing our future generations. No less important, I wish the Future-Ready Talent Incubation Programme a resounding success and every one of you a fruitful discussion today.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Future-Ready Talent Incubation Programme launch ceremony on February 25.

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Bay area dev’t to benefit HK

Welcome to the symposium on the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area jointly organised by the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. I wish to extend my special gratitude to Deputy Chairman Lin Nianxiu of the Office of the Leading Group for the Development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Director General Guo Lanfeng of the Department of Regional Economy of the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC). They have travelled all the way to Hong Kong from Beijing to introduce the contents of the Outline Development Plan to representatives from various sectors from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. We are also honoured to have Governor Ma Xingrui of Guangdong Province and Chief Executive Chui Sai-on of the Macao Special Administrative Region visiting Hong Kong to set out the key work of Guangdong and Macau in implementing the Outline Development Plan.

 

Three days ago, the Central Government promulgated the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. It is a national strategy personally devised, personally planned and personally driven by President Xi Jinping. It is not only a key development strategy in the country’s reform and opening up in the new era, but also a further step in enriching the practice of “one country, two systems”. Through further deepening co-operation amongst Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, its objectives are to promote co-ordinated economic development in the Greater Bay Area, leverage the complementary advantages of the three places, develop an international first-class bay area for living, working and travelling, and further enhance the Greater Bay Area’s supporting and leading role in the country’s economic development and opening up.

 

On July 1, 2017, witnessed by President Xi Jinping, the NDRC and the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau signed the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Greater Bay Area in Hong Kong. Since then, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has kept in close contact with relevant central ministries and the governments of Guangdong and Macau to draw up and introduce policies and measures for the development of the Greater Bay Area. The Outline Development Plan is the best manifestation of the close co-operation amongst the three governments and their positive interaction with central ministries. In the process of drawing up the Outline Development Plan, the HKSAR Government put great efforts into reflecting the views our bureaus and departments obtained from consulting relevant sectors and stakeholders. On behalf of the HKSAR Government, I wish to thank the Central Government wholeheartedly for according much importance, and indeed accepting those views of Hong Kong.

 

On August 15 last year, the first plenary meeting of the leading group for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, chaired by Vice Premier Han Zheng, took place in Beijing. Chief Executive Chui Sai-on and I attended the meeting as leading group members, demonstrating the key role played by Hong Kong and Macau in the Greater Bay Area. In his opening remarks, Vice Premier Han Zheng insightfully elucidated on three issues – why we develop the Greater Bay Area, what kind of Greater Bay Area is to be developed, and how we develop the Greater Bay Area. Today, I also wish to share my views on why Hong Kong needs to proactively participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area and how Hong Kong would do so.

 

Why Hong Kong should participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area

For many years, Hong Kong has been one of the top performers in terms of global competitiveness, due to its excellent geographic location, its free and open market, as well as its advantages being an international city under “one country, two systems”. Nonetheless, as competition with nearby economies and globally intensifies, the strengths of Hong Kong’s traditional industries are weakening. Today, amidst a slowdown in global economic growth and a rise of protectionism, Hong Kong faces increasingly serious challenges. As such, we must strive to innovate and develop high-value-added and diversified industries, in order to give new impetus to the economy of Hong Kong.

 

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is an enormous market with a population of 70 million and a gross domestic product of US$1.5 trillion. As one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China, the Greater Bay Area is well placed to give new impetus to the development of Hong Kong, providing the people of Hong Kong, especially young people, with new horizons and new opportunities for developing their careers. Hong Kong must therefore grasp such invaluable opportunities and proactively take part in the development of the Greater Bay Area to create better conditions for ourselves.

 

How Hong Kong should participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area

Under “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong enjoys unique dual advantages. On the one hand, Hong Kong is part of China; on the other hand, our economic, legal and social systems are different from those of the Mainland. Hong Kong is a highly open and international city, with a business environment that is open and facilitating, as well as professional services that are of excellent quality. Our strengths can complement the advantages of the nine Mainland cities within the Greater Bay Area, such as the size of their market, an all-rounded industry system, and their relative strength in technology. In fact, taking forward the co-ordinated development of the Greater Bay Area is conducive to further enhancing Hong Kong’s status as international financial, transportation and trade centres, as well as an international aviation hub. In other words, Hong Kong’s role in the development of the Greater Bay Area needs to change from being a connector to being a more proactive participant. Meanwhile, the Government’s new roles of facilitator and promoter, as advocated by the current-term Government, will help Hong Kong take part in the development of the Greater Bay Area, allowing everyone in Hong Kong to become beneficiaries of the Greater Bay Area.

 

It is therefore evident that “one country, two systems” is not only Hong Kong’s advantage in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, but it is also the key foundation for the internationalisation of the Greater Bay Area. Central leaders have time and again emphasised that in the process of taking forward the development of the Greater Bay Area, the principle of “one country, two systems”, “people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong” and the “people of Macau governing Macau” with a high degree of autonomy will be strictly adhered to. The development of the Greater Bay Area will enrich the practice of “one country, two systems” and is conducive to maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau. It will not, as some people worry, blur the boundaries between the “two systems”, nor will it weaken Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory. It certainly will not lead to the assimilation of Hong Kong into the Mainland either.

 

Future work focuses

To develop Hong Kong into an international metropolis with enhanced competitiveness, we shall follow the guiding directions in the Outline Development Plan, proactively co-operating with relevant central ministries, the People’s Government of Guangdong Province and the Macao SAR Government in jointly taking forward work relating to the development of the Greater Bay Area. The HKSAR Government’s future work focuses include: (i) consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as international financial, transportation and trade centres as well as an international aviation hub; (ii) developing an international innovation and technology hub; (iii) expanding the scope of development for sectors in which Hong Kong’s strengths lie; (iv) strengthening infrastructural connectivity; (v) fostering youth innovation and entrepreneurship; and (vi) fully utilising Hong Kong’s international connections and networks to promote the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area overseas and attract capital and talents to the Greater Bay Area. I shall briefly elaborate on our work in the areas of finance, aviation, innovation and youth entrepreneurship.

 

Financial services

Hong Kong’s status as the world’s premier international financial centre is well recognised. The city is ranked third in the Global Financial Centres Index and holds the top spot in Asia. Apart from our efficient links to other major commercial centres all over the world, Hong Kong has a financial regulatory and supervisory framework that is in line with international standards, as well as a strategic geographic location. Hong Kong can leverage on the development of the Greater Bay Area to promote the efficient flow of factors of production to support the development of the real economy. Meanwhile, we should make good use of the Greater Bay Area’s enormous population and economic scale to promote the development of the financial services sector in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government has maintained close liaison with the governments of Guangdong and Macau to seek support from the Central Government to implement concrete measures to promote financial co-operation within the Greater Bay Area and promote financial development in the region.

 

Aviation development

Hong Kong is an international aviation hub. The Hong Kong International Airport connects to over 220 destinations. It handled over 74 million passengers and 5.1 million tonnes of cargo and air mail in 2018. Looking ahead to our future development, Hong Kong International Airport has an important strategic function for both the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the entire country. The three-runway system, which is under construction, will help strengthen connections between the country’s and the world’s flight destinations. The HKSAR Government will continue to support nearby airports in the Greater Bay Area to pursue development jointly based on complementarity and each airport’s uniqueness. We shall also further expand the Greater Bay Area’s domestic and international aviation networks, proactively take forward inter-modal services, expedite the development of general aviation, expand cross-boundary helicopter services, and leverage Hong Kong’s unique role as a centre for manpower training of the aviation industry and for aviation financing and leasing in driving the development of the entire Greater Bay Area.

 

International I&T hub

The country has all along given staunch support to Hong Kong’s I&T development. In May 2018, President Xi Jinping gave a personal instruction, affirming that Hong Kong has a solid science and technology foundation and high-quality technology talents, and that Hong Kong’s science and technology sector has made significant contributions to the development of Hong Kong and the country. The instruction also supports Hong Kong’s development into an international I&T hub. In line with the spirit of President Xi Jinping’s personal directive, the HKSAR Government benefitted from concrete measures that had the Central Government’s support and co-operation in the past year, including (i) realising cross-boundary remittance of science and technology funding of the Central Government to Hong Kong; (ii) signing a co-operation arrangement with the Ministry of Science & Technology fostering I&T co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong; (iii) establishing that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will set up an affiliated institution in Hong Kong to facilitate its research institutes to establish their presence in the two research clusters to be set up at the Hong Kong Science Park; and (iv) establishing a Greater Bay Area academician alliance in Hong Kong to promote exchange and co-operation amongst academicians of the CAS and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, bringing prominent scientists in the region to advise on technological development in Greater Bay Area.

 

In fact, after the planning and investment by the current-term Government in the last year or so, Hong Kong is ready to take on an important role in the work of developing the Greater Bay Area into an international I&T hub. The HKSAR Government’s concrete work on this front includes: (i) actively developing the Lok Ma Chau Loop into the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park; (ii) developing a base for co-operation in scientific research through liaising with top-tier enterprises, research and development institutions and higher education institutions on the Mainland and overseas; (iii) actively pursuing the establishment of the two research clusters at the Hong Kong Science Park on healthcare technologies, as well as artificial intelligence and robotics technologies; (iv) nurturing local I&T talents through measures such as the Postdoctoral Hub Programme and the Reindustrialisation & Technology Training Programme; (v) increasing scientific research funding for universities and providing tax deduction for the expenditures incurred by enterprises on R&D; (vi) introducing the Technology Talent Admission Scheme to enlarge Hong Kong’s I&T talent pool; (vii) establishing the Innovation & Technology Venture Fund to invest on a matching basis in local I&T startups; and (viii) opening up government data and introducing a pro-innovation government procurement policy.

 

The measures above would strengthen Hong Kong’s own I&T capabilities. Together with the supporting policies in the Outline Development Plan, they will certainly speed up the process of developing an international I&T hub in the Greater Bay Area.

 

Encouraging youth innovation and entrepreneurship

The HKSAR Government encourages Hong Kong’s young people to participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area and endeavours to provide more opportunities for the development of Hong Kong’s young talents in innovation and entrepreneurship. Our objective is to foster the Greater Bay Area to become a world-class international platform for innovation and entrepreneurship. Through co-operation with subvented and non-governmental organisations, the HKSAR Government will provide young people starting their businesses in various Greater Bay Area cities with startup grants, support, counselling, guidance, and incubation services. We shall also co-operate with the Guangdong Provincial Government to establish an Alliance of Hong Kong Youth Innovative & Entrepreneurial Bases in the Greater Bay Area with a view to providing a one-stop information, publicity and exchange platform, thereby supporting the development of Hong Kong youth entrepreneurs in the Greater Bay Area.

 

Conclusion

As President Xi Jinping mentioned in his speech at the meeting with the Hong Kong and Macau delegations from various sectors in celebration of the 40th anniversary of country’s reform and opening up on November 12, 2018, the Greater Bay Area is to be developed under the conditions of one country, two systems, three customs territories and three currencies, without any precedents internationally. We should be bold in experimenting in order to break new ground. Hong Kong should improve its inner strength and resilience, as well as strive to create new drivers of economic growth. Facts speak louder than words: with the support of the Central Government, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau implemented in the past year or so many measures for the development of the Greater Bay Area. None of them breached the principle of “one country, two systems”. The HKSAR Government will continue to fully put the principle of “one country, two systems” into practice, as well as proactively explore new development directions, expand fresh development space, and give renewed development impetus for Hong Kong through our participation in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

 

Speaking of functions of the government, I noticed that Governor Ma Xingrui mentioned at the meeting of the People’s Congress of the Guangdong Province on January 28 that the Guangdong Provincial Government will mobilise every force in the province to take forward the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. I also wish to state my position clearly: the HKSAR Government will spare no effort and do everything we can to take forward the development of the Greater Bay Area. Yet this colossal project also requires the participation of enterprises, professional sectors and ordinary people. The promulgation of the Outline Development Plan can help different sectors of society better understand the basic principles and broad policy directions of the development of the Greater Bay Area, such that they can consider how to expand their scope of development through opportunities brought about by the Greater Bay Area. To deepen understanding of the development of the Greater Bay Area in the wider society in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, the HKSAR Government will launch different forms of publicity and promotional activities to allow enterprises and the public, and young people in particular, to understand and grasp the opportunities brought to them by the development of the Greater Bay Area. We also attach greater importance to our overseas promotion efforts. Last June, I led a delegation to Paris, France to conduct promotional activities jointly with the governments of Guangdong and Macau, which were well received. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau are planning to go overseas together again this year to jointly promote the Greater Bay Area.

 

I encourage you all to visit the HKSAR’s dedicated website and our WeChat official account to learn more about the opportunities brought about by the development of the Greater Bay Area. Let us all grasp the opportunities of the development of the Greater Bay Area for a better tomorrow.

 

This is a translation of the remarks made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the Symposium on the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area on February 21.

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HK key to national development

I spoke last January at the Conference’s third edition, organised under the theme of “Globalisation: the China Perspective and the US Factor.” That spotlight has proved to be far-sighted – as we all know, trade friction between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, has dominated political and economic developments since then. And because of globalisation, the impacts of such bilateral tension are affecting many economies, and Hong Kong is no exception. Our GDP growth last year considerably moderated as the year passed by – from 4.6% in the first quarter to 2.9% in the third quarter, and likely to go below 1.5% as forewarned by the Financial Secretary in his weekly blog a few days ago.

 

While impacts of the trade war will be addressed in one of the sessions in today’s conference, I suggest we seize this opportunity to discuss the bigger, and longer term prospects. After all, as one saying goes, “development is a journey with no end, but with one new departure point after another.” China has proudly gone through a good 40 years of that journey under the reform and opening up policy, bringing significant benefits to her people, including lifting an estimated 700 million people out of poverty. So, let’s focus our mind on the next 40 years of China’s development, which is a well-chosen theme for today’s conference.

 

Since taking office as the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), I have had the privilege of listening first hand to speeches made by President Xi Jinping on international occasions. These included two APEC CEO Summits held in Da Nang, Vietnam in 2017 and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in 2018, the 2018 Boao Asian Forum in Hainan and the first China International Import Expo in 2018 in Shanghai. Several key messages delivered by President Xi on those occasions are, in my view, clear and consistent. As I believe they would shed some light on China’s future development, I venture to offer the impression I have got.

 
Key messages
The first message is that the global economy is facing some profound changes brought about by a new wave of technological and industrial revolutions. We are experiencing rapid advances in digital economy and shared economy. Governments have to find new development models or new growth drivers to adapt to such changes in order to ensure continued success and prosperity.

 

The second message is, as a result of globalisation the economic and social well-being of countries and territories is increasingly interconnected. Governments need to pursue an open policy, defy protectionism and unilateralism, and strive to enhance the level of opening-up at both bilateral and multilateral levels, so that win-win solutions could be found to jointly promote global economic growth.

 

The third message is economic growth should be more inclusive and deliver benefits to all people. Governments should invest more in education, medical care, employment and other areas that are so important to people’s livelihood, and address poverty and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. They should reach out to disadvantaged groups, improve the business environment, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and enable the workforce to better adapt to the industrial and digital transformation so that everyone will have his fair share of opportunity and benefits.

 

Based on my observation, China is taking to heart those messages through deeds. President Xi has, on many occasions, emphasised China’s continued commitment to reform and opening up. At the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo held in Shanghai in November last year, President Xi told the world emphatically that, “China’s door will never be closed. It will only open still wider. China will not stop its effort to pursue higher-quality opening-up! China will not stop its effort to pursue an open world economy! And China will not stop its effort to pursue a community with a shared future for mankind!”

 

One would hardly be surprised by the president’s strong commitment, given the achievements of China’s reform and opening up over the past 40 years. Hong Kong, I’m pleased to say, has played in what President Xi described when meeting the delegation I led to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up initiative last November, an irreplaceable role in the Mainland’s soaring success story over these past 40 years; we are both a contributor and a beneficiary of the Mainland’s opening up. With our unique strengths under “one country, two systems”, I have every confidence that Hong Kong will continue to benefit and contribute, especially in the context of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt & Road Initiative.

 

Before I end, I should highlight that the Greater Bay Area, on which an Outline Development Plan has been promulgated earlier this week, has much to offer Hong Kong. Given its significance, the HKSAR Government together with the Guangdong Government and the Macao SAR Government will jointly host a symposium later this morning to discuss the key aspects of the plan. While you may not be able to join us at the symposium, rest assured that you will all have many opportunities to express your views and suggestions in the future. We need you and indeed all Hong Kong people to contribute to its success.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, to conclude, Hong Kong is proud of our contribution to the country and of our own progress over the past 40 years. As Hong Kong integrates further into the overall development of our country, I am sure our country will continue to make us proud in the next 40 years.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the South China Morning Post China Conference on February 21.

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Belt & Road run to promote HK

Running has been one of my favourite sports. It helps me keep fit and refreshes my mind. Having a clear mind is particularly important in the run-up to the annual Budget of the Government. This may be why Ben and Mary thought of me in selecting the participants for this year’s Leaders Cup race.

 

For those of you running with me, please feel free to give me your thoughts on the Budget during the run.

 

Today also marks the launching of the Standard Chartered Belt & Road Relay, a very creative and meaningful event, and also the first-ever marathon relay along the Belt & Road countries. For the staff athletes joining the relay, I will count on you to promote the key role of Hong Kong as an international financial centre.

 

 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave these remarks at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2019 Leaders Cup on February 17.

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HK celebrates Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! Welcome to the 24th International Chinese New Year Night Parade. As the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I’m delighted to join you at this night parade to celebrate the most jubilant of our Chinese festivals.

 

A fantastic, multicultural pageant, the parade annually thrills not only locals but also visitors from around the world. Alongside a fanfare of spectacular floats, this year’s parade showcases more than 20 performing groups – from Hong Kong and from all over the world – here to dazzle and delight long into the night.

 

As fabulous as the parade promises to be, there’s more to come in the days and nights ahead, as Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year celebration continues through the new year, with a fireworks extravaganza, a well-wishing festival, brilliant lantern displays and much more. I welcome every one of you to celebrate with us. And I wish you all a happy, healthy and rewarding Year of the Pig.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the 2019 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade at the Cultural Centre Piazza on February 5.

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CE delivers New Year message

The Lunar New Year is an important festival for Chinese people. It is also a time for families to get together. When the Lunar New Year approaches, many people will do their festive shopping. I also took a break from my busy schedule and went to Sheung Wan to buy some dried seafood and flowers. I chatted with shop owners and staff, and took the chance to extend early New Year greetings to members of the public and exchange good wishes with them.

 

This year is the Year of the Pig. I wish you all a healthy and prosperous year ahead.

 

This is a translation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s Lunar New Year message delivered on February 4.

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