HK a prime Belt-Road platform

Hong Kong is not only one of the most competitive cities in the world, but also a multicultural city in the heart of Asia. Under the unique “one country, two systems” principle and enjoying unique strengths and advantages, we are a key link and a prime platform for the Belt & Road. For the past few years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has been playing the roles of facilitator and promoter in taking forward the Belt & Road Initiative, and we are pleased that various sectors in Hong Kong are all very enthusiastic to join this challenging and worthy cause.

 

Today’s session will be moderated by Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited Chairperson Laura Cha and joined by six delegates from Hong Kong who are among the most accomplished in their respective sectors. Over the next 40 minutes, they will share their insights on our city’s position as the Belt & Road hub in many aspects – ranging from finance and investment, legal and dispute resolution services, business and trade, professional services and capacity building to cultural exchange – as well as on how to leverage Hong Kong’s strengths and advantages in professional services and international expertise in enhancing regional co-operation. In short, today’s session will shed light on how Hong Kong can contribute to the Belt & Road, and hopefully will give you an extra boost of confidence in partnering with Hong Kong.

 

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the organisers of this thematic forum – the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality. My thanks also go to ministries and departments that have rendered us strong assistance, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Development & Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the dedicated session on Hong Kong themed “Belt & Road: Hong Kong IN” at the thematic forum on sub-national co-operation of the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on April 25.

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I&T tops Gov’t agenda

Innovation and technology has been a top policy agenda of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Our vision is to drive diversified economic development by I&T, and develop Hong Kong into an international I&T hub which is open to talents around the world.

 

Over the past few years, the Hong Kong SAR Government committed significant resources of over US$12.8 billion towards a broad spectrum of initiatives to strengthen Hong Kong’s I&T ecosystem, including increasing resources for research and development, nurturing technology talents, implementing forward-looking tax reform to incentivise R&D activities, providing investment funding, building I&T-related infrastructures, and helping small and medium-sized enterprises to upgrade and transform with I&T solutions for their businesses, etc.

 

One of the key initiatives I would like to highlight here is that we are building two world-class research clusters in Hong Kong. We have set aside US$1.3 billion to establish Health@InnoHK focusing on healthcare technologies, and AIR@InnoHK focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies at our Science Park. Through this initiative, we can capitalise on the strengths of our local universities and attract top-notch universities and scientific research institutions around the world to collaborate with us, and thus enhance Hong Kong’s overall research and development capability in the long run.  

 

I am proud to say that we are doing quite well on this effort. So far, the two clusters have attracted the attention of a number of world-acclaimed institutions. To give just a few examples, Harvard University, Stanford University, Imperial College London, University College London and Johns Hopkins University have teamed up with Hong Kong’s institutions, expressing strong interest in joining the two clusters. We anticipate that the first batch of research institutions will be setting up their laboratories in the Hong Kong Science Park by the end of this year.

 

As President Xi remarked, the Belt & Road Initiative is China’s initiative, the opportunities and fruits that it presents belong to the whole world. Collaboration under the initiative will surely be a win-win for all parties.

 

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang gave these remarks at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’s thematic forum on silk road of innovation in Beijing on April 25.

 

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Dispute resolution system mooted

The Belt & Road Initiative straddles different borders, cultures and legal systems. It reflects the design of the new type of international relations, featuring win-win co-operation. It creates a new globalism, and advocates harmony, multilateralism and inclusiveness. It resonates with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reinforces each other.

 

A policy angle that I would like to talk about is the rule of law and one facet of it is dispute resolution. The number of co-operation agreements and memorandums of understanding that have been signed under the initiative is 176 and the number is still growing. Yet, the implementation may create differences leading to conflicts and disputes. It is of paramount importance that a dispute avoidance and resolution system which echoes the spirit of the initiative be developed to ensure that the common cause of this new international co-operation for development remains the priority.

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is keen to collaborate and develop such a system. Hong Kong is privileged to have a sound and robust legal system, coupled with up-to-date and fair arbitration and mediation laws and practice that have earned international recognition.

 

To address the characteristics of Belt & Road-related transaction disputes, we propose two points for consideration.

 

Firstly, thought should be given as to whether a body established through collaboration, based on creditability and sensitive to cultural diversity, be set up.

 

Secondly, consideration should also be given to look at how to enhance the system of dispute resolution and to be innovative so as to provide an inclusive and affordable mechanism that leads to a win-win solution.

 

Under the principle of shared growth through discussion and collaboration, active consideration may be given to the provision of diversified dispute resolution services for Belt & Road countries.

 

Hong Kong hopes to contribute to the implementation of the Belt & Road Initiative, and facilitate the communication and collaboration of different countries, thereby ushering in an all-win situation hand in hand, and contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16 which promotes the rule of law, peace, justice and strong institutions.

 

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng gave these remarks at the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation’s thematic forum on policy co-ordination in Beijing on April 25.

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Belt-Road a boon to HK

Hong Kong is Asia’s world city. We are one of the most competitive cities in the world, and faithfully practise a free and open economy. Our strategic geographical location as a bi-directional gateway connecting the Mainland and other Belt & Road countries and world-class infrastructure have underpinned Hong Kong as an international financial, transportation and trade centre as well as an international aviation hub. Moreover, under “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy in conducting its external affairs and has established extensive and strong overseas connections. We strongly believe that these unique advantages well position Hong Kong to play a pivotal role in enhancing international and regional co-operation in the context of the Belt & Road Initiative.

 

In terms of trade and economic co-operation, Hong Kong has been actively seeking to forge stronger ties by, for example, signing Free Trade Agreements and Investment Promotion & Protection Agreements with our Belt & Road partners. The Hong Kong-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement scheduled to take effect later this year and our three Economic & Trade Offices in Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok will surely deepen our co-operation in the Southeast Asian region.

 

But Hong Kong is not only about business. Hong Kong also offers a platform for cultural exchanges between East and West, and can play a key role in enhancing people-to-people bonds. Our arts development, architecture, traditions, cultural heritage, cuisine and religions are a testimony of the harmonious integration of different cultures. We encourage our people to reach out to the diverse cultures, such as by sponsoring arts performance and youth exchanges through different funding schemes, and providing scholarships to encourage outstanding students from Belt & Road countries to study in Hong Kong universities.

 

And as a well-developed city with rich experience in city management, Hong Kong is prepared to share our knowledge and expertise with our Belt & Road counterparts in a variety of fields, such as airport management, railway operation, emergency services, green and sustainable development, etc. Indeed, I have made capacity building one of Hong Kong’s contributions to the Belt & Road’s people-to-people connectivity.

 

To give you some examples, our world-renowned Independent Commission Against Corruption has connected with over 40 Belt & Road countries to provide training and other forms of assistance to their anti-corruption agencies. Our disciplined services departments, such as the Police and the Fire Services Department, are offering training programmes for their overseas counterparts.

 

Our Mass Transit Railway Corporation, which has a long history of providing safe, reliable and efficient railway services, established the MTR Academy in 2016 for training personnel in railway management and operation worldwide. In 2017 and 2018, over 400 executives from 22 countries attended its programmes. Likewise, our Airport Authority, which manages one of the best airports in the world, established the International Aviation Academy in 2016 to train local and regional air transport management talents. So far, participants from eight Belt & Road countries have joined a master programme in air transport management offered by the academy. We will continue our efforts, with a view to further strengthening our ties with other Belt & Road economies.

 

As today’s forum is on regional co-operation, I must mention the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. Featuring “one country”, “two systems”, “three customs territories”, “three legal systems”, etc, the Greater Bay Area development is an ideal example of how economies with different characteristics can work together to achieve a win-win outcome.

 

For those who are less familiar with the Greater Bay Area, it is the most vibrant region of China covering an area of 56,000 sq km. It brings together the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau as well as nine flourishing cities in the Guangdong Province. Collectively, they represent a population of over 70 million people and a combined GDP of US$1.6 trillion.

 

As a national development strategy, the Greater Bay Area is destined to be a key engine for regional co-operation and joint development. According to the outline development plan of the development promulgated by the Central Government in February this year, the Greater Bay Area is set to provide solid support for the Belt & Road Initiative. Hong Kong will for sure leverage on our strengths and advantages that I just mentioned and make the best contribution to these two initiatives.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation’s thematic forum on sub-national co-operation in Beijing on April 25.

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HK a key Belt-Road contributor

Speaking of the advantages of Hong Kong, I think what Hong Kong can offer to the economic zones along the Belt & Road can be summarised into three points: first is financing; second is professional services; and third, looking ahead, might be I&T (innovation and technology).

 

Hong Kong is no stranger to all these economic and trade co-operation zones along the Belt & Road, although you may not necessarily notice many Hong Kong company names along the way. As the previous speaker talked about the Belarus industrial zone (China-Belarus Industrial Park), he mentioned companies like the China Merchants Group (CMG). I can see the CEO, Mr Li (China Merchants Group Limited chairman Li Jianhong) sitting over there. These companies, while their names bear the China characters, are at the same time Hong Kong companies. The CMG, for instance, has been in Hong Kong for over 100 years, and is one of the listed companies in Hong Kong.

 

Our presence in these industrial zones and commercial zones along the Belt & Road is in fact serving Hong Kong’s critical role as the financier. In this time and age, many of these projects involve major infrastructural developments. They are mega projects beyond the financing capability of a single company or a single nation, so the question of how to finance these projects is an important one, and Hong Kong as a global financial centre is there to serve this role. We are also China’s biggest offshore renminbi centre.

 

The second contribution that we can make is on professional services. Before we talk about financing when there is actual money coming in, you need first of all professional services’ input, during and after the development of all these zones. In striking a deal, assessing, managing and minimising risks so as to minimise the cost of financing is a prerequisite. All these involve a wide range of professional services from legal, insurance and accounting to business consulting. These are commonly available in the city of Hong Kong. And these professional services are not just home grown, they also include international firms having their foothold in Hong Kong.

 

That brings me to my third point. While we are seeing that many of these trade and economic zones are heavily focused on infrastructure and manufacturing to start with, nothing would prevent these zones from developing into I&T hubs, as we talk about moving further outwards to logistics, trade and e-commerce. And that is where I&T comes in.

 

Hong Kong together with our neighbouring cities including Macau and the nine cities adjacent to us in Guangdong Province form ourselves into the Greater Bay Area, which is in fact the major I&T hub in this part of the world taking advantage of Hong Kong being the research centre, and the neighbouring cities with advanced manufacturing and prototyping capabilities. Together, we provide the third contribution in addition to financing and professional services, which is the I&T solution.

 

In brief, what Hong Kong can offer is not just from the city of Hong Kong. We can go beyond being a financial centre, but also leverage on the diversified network we have, and make good use of the strength of professional services and embarking further onto I&T development. So I think we stand ready to contribute in our small ways and hopefully that will make some differences.

 

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau gave these remarks at the thematic forum on economic and trade co-operation zone promotion of the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on April 25.

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HK ready for Belt-Road projects

Belt & Road is a vision that is driving changes and spurring development across the world. As a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China blessed with “one country, two systems” and well-established international links, Hong Kong aspires to play an active role in this initiative. With the support of the Central Government, we entered into an arrangement with the National Development & Reform Commission in December 2017 for advancing Hong Kong’s full participation in and contribution to the Belt & Road Initiative, and in February last year, we hosted a seminar entitled “Strategies & Opportunities under the Belt & Road Initiative – Leveraging Hong Kong’s Advantages, Meeting the Country’s Needs” at the Great Hall of the People here in Beijing.

 

In my view, the single most relevant advantage of Hong Kong that could best meet the country’s needs is our financial services given our status as a global financial centre. According to the Global Financial Centre Index, Hong Kong is ranked number three globally, right behind New York and London.

 

Many Belt & Road economies aspire to draw foreign investments in infrastructure that underpins core economic activity and improves people’s livelihood. Asian Development Bank estimates a funding demand of US$1.7 trillion each year in developing countries in Asia alone between 2016 and 2030.

 

Infrastructure investments are among the most complicated asset classes. Funding of cross-border or regional projects becomes even more challenging. While multiple public financing mechanisms have been put in place, financing the enormous funding needs in the long run calls for private sector involvement.

 

To attract more private capital for projects requires deep experience and expertise to assess and manage risks. On this front, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority set up an Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) in 2016 aiming to bring together like-minded partners with the necessary expertise to improve operational efficiency and reduce project risks. By generating demonstration effect for the market, we believe IFFO would help draw in greater private capital participation on a broader scale. In a similar light, the Hong Kong Insurance Authority launched the Belt & Road Insurance Exchange Facilitation platform last December to pool together key stakeholders to exchange intelligence on risk management and insurance, forge alliances and facilitate networking.

 

Hong Kong can also help in many other ways, given our status as a global financial centre. Under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong has maintained its market-based financial system, underpinned by the rule of law and internationally aligned regulatory regimes. We have a deep capital market, with our stock market boasting the world’s sixth largest capitalisation at US$4.2 trillion, which is over 11 times our GDP. Last year, we topped the world for the sixth time in 10 years in initial public offerings, taking in some US$37 billion.

 

We also have one of the largest bond markets in the region, and are developing into a regional hub for green finance. In addition, we are Asia’s second largest international banking centre behind only Japan. Our asset and wealth management sector manages about US$3.1 trillion, two-thirds of that coming from non-Hong Kong investors.

 

We are, as well, the biggest offshore renminbi centre in the world, processing more than 75% of global offshore renminbi payments. We have vast experience in connecting the Mainland’s capital markets with the rest of the world, where our various mutual market access schemes and recognition of funds have all continued apace to strengthen connectivity that facilitates the two-way flow of cross-border funds. In short, Hong Kong is a one-stop destination of choice to serve as a premier financial and risk management centre for Belt & Road’s big-ticket projects.

 

With an unprecedented share of about 65% of world’s population and 40% of global GDP, the Belt & Road will create abundant work, business and investment opportunities in the region. To realise this potential, investment in infrastructure today will lay the foundation for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. Hong Kong is prepared to work with other economies in the region to make a palpable difference in the joint pursuit of shared win-win economic development.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation’s thematic forum on financial connectivity in Beijing on April 25.

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Sports park construction starts

I am delighted to be here today for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kai Tak Sports Park. Together we are witnessing an important milestone in the delivery of the largest multi-purpose sports venue in Hong Kong. This Kai Tak Sports Park is the Government’s most significant investment in sports infrastructure in recent years. When completed, it will play an important role in realising our sports development policy in terms of attracting major international sports events, supporting our elite athletes and promoting community sports. Like every one of us here, I am looking forward to the early completion of this new Hong Kong sports flagship and another significant landmark of our city. I wish the design and construction team every success in taking forward this major project and delivering this project on time and within budget.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Kai Tak Sports Park groundbreaking ceremony on April 23.

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HK Laureate Forum born

On September 26, 2017, I attended the Shaw Prize Award Presentation Ceremony for the first time as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. On that occasion, five distinguished scientists in astronomy, life science & medicine, and mathematical sciences were honoured. They are distinguished individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind. As I was then drawing up a multi-pronged strategy to develop innovation and technology in Hong Kong, including the promotion of popular science education, I asked myself how we could bring together this pool of great scientific minds to help nurture the next generation of young scientists. This was the beginning of a year-long endeavour to create the Hong Kong Laureate Forum.

 

Under the vision and generosity of the late Sir Run Run Shaw and with the unfailing support of his wife the late Lady Shaw, the Shaw Prize was established in 2002 to recognize advances and outstanding contributions in three disciplines, namely, astronomy, life science & medicine, and mathematical sciences. In less than two decades, the Shaw Prize has become a world-renowned award for the highest achievements in mankind. Indeed, among the nearly 80 Shaw laureates since 2004, 18 of them have been awarded other world-renowned international awards, including 12 Nobel Prize awardees, four Fields medalists and two Abel Prize recipients. Hong Kong is blessed to have its home-grown international award and the Government fully subscribes to the Shaw Prize’s vision – to further societal progress, enhance quality of life and enrich humanity’s spiritual civilization.

 

Since taking office on July 1, 2017, I have put innovation and technology development at the top of my policy agenda. In less than two years’ time, we have made some promising progress on various fronts including boosting R&D funding, pursuing additional infrastructure, creating technology clusters, etc. and committed some $100 billion for a range of initiatives. To sustain I&T development, nurturing talents and promoting popular science education have an important part to play.

 

I believe the best way to spark the younger generation’s enthusiasm for science is to provide them with opportunities for direct exchange and dialogue with the brightest minds in science. Being Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is an ideal place to organise a world-class academic exchange event to connect the current and next generations of scientific leaders. Linking this objective to the Shaw Prize immediately came to my mind.

 

A good place to start was to look at how similar forums around the world are planned and organized. Taking advantage of an earlier encounter in Hong Kong with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings organiser and my official trip to Europe in June 2018, I went to Lindau, Germany to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. While in Lindau, apart from taking part in the opening ceremony and welcoming reception of the Lindau Meeting, I shared the stage with two distinguished Nobel laureates and spoke on the topic of “Developing Stronger Science Leadership in Different Cultures – China, US/Europe & Others as Basis for Innovation”. The level of enthusiasm and interest shown by the young scientists in asking questions and presenting their views to the laureates reinforced my belief that a similar gathering of distinguished and young scientists will be a very meaningful endeavor for Hong Kong.

 

While in Lindau, I also met with the Board Chairman of the Foundation for the Lindau Meetings Prof Jurgen Kluge to learn more about the organisation of the annual Lindau Meetings, and talked to five esteemed Shaw laureates who were also Nobel laureates. All of them warmly welcomed the idea of Hong Kong organising a Laureate Forum leveraging on the Shaw Prize. I was much encouraged.

 

Supported by the newly created Policy Innovation & Coordination Office, preparation for the Hong Kong Laureate Forum began immediately after the delivery of my 2018 Policy Address. Thanks to the generosity of the Lee Shau Kee Foundation which has pledged full sponsorship for the forum, the support of the Shaw Prize Foundation, and a group of like-minded people who share my vision, we are able to take forward the initiative expeditiously. In April 2019, the Council of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum, which is responsible for the planning and organisation of the forum, was incorporated. Chaired by Prof Timothy Tong, immediate past President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the board of the council comprises 11 distinguished personalities and academics in Hong Kong as members. They are Mr Raymond Chan (Chairman of Shaw Prize Foundation), Dr Moses Cheng, Mrs Rita Fan, Mr Henry Fan, Dr Victor Fung, Dr Colin Lam and Mr Martin Lee (representatives of the principal sponsor), Mr Carlson Tong, Prof Tsui Lap-chee, Mr Joseph Yam and Prof Kenneth Young. To allow sufficient time for organising a world-class academic event and recruitment of young scientists from all over the world, naturally including Hong Kong, the council has decided to hold the inaugural Hong Kong Laureate Forum in November 2021.

 

The forum is getting off to a very good start. I wrote personally to all the Shaw laureates in January 2019 introducing to them the Hong Kong Laureate Forum and inviting them to indicate their interest in attending the first forum in 2021. We are thrilled by the overwhelming response. So far, over two-thirds of them have indicated interest, of whom six are also Nobel laureates and two are Fields medalists. I am particularly moved by the words of encouragement from some of the laureates –

 

   “It is indeed a wonderful idea to host such an event after nearly 20 years of establishment of the Shaw Prize. These laureate meetings will further enhance the prestige of the Shaw Prize and will contribute to promotion of science in the world.”

 

   Prof Henryk Iwaniec (mathematical science, 2015)

 

   “I have fond memories of my visit to Hong Kong in 2016 and would be delighted to attend once again to discuss science.”

 

   Prof Adrian Bird (life science & medicine, 2016)

 

The Hong Kong Laureate Forum will also be an international platform to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and is therefore establishing links with similar organisations. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation is our very first one. Similar to the Lindau Meetings, the Heidelberg Laureate Forum is an annual scientific event held in Heidelberg, home of Germany’s oldest university, for exchanges between recipients of the most prestigious awards in mathematical and computer sciences and young scientists. When I met with the Managing Director of the foundation Mrs Ruth Wetzlar in Hong Kong in January, she readily offered to present a lecture at the inaugural Hong Kong Laureate Forum featuring some of the laureates who are recipients of both the Shaw Prize and Fields Medal/Abel Prize.

 

Backed by enthusiasm both locally and overseas, I am pleased to announce that the Hong Kong Laureate Forum was born!

 

To celebrate the birth of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum, the council will stage a launching ceremony at Government House on May 14. Several Shaw laureates will join the ceremony to pledge their support for the initiative. university presidents, representatives of research institutions and major education bodies, members of the Executive and Legislative Councils, local young scientists, etc. as well as the media will be invited to the launching event.

 

Such is the beginning of an exciting project. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Shaw Prize Foundation, the Lee Shau Kee Foundation, the chairman and members of the Council of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum and Shaw laureates for their encouragement and support. Let’s join hands to make the Hong Kong Laureate Forum a shining example of furthering the understanding of science and its contribution to humanity.

 

This article by Chief Executive Carrie Lam was published on the Chief Executive’s Office’s website on April 22.

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Self-financing sector supported

I am pleased to be here today for the opening of the brand-new Chai Wan Campus of the Technological & Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong, or THEi, as the Institute is so smartly known. It is particularly delightful to attend this grand opening, just a few months after my attendance at the opening of another new Vocational Training Council facility, the International Culinary Institute in Pok Fu Lam. I understand that there is one person behind both projects of VTC who is unable to join us this afternoon, that is the Honourable Dr Andrew Leung, the predecessor of Dr Roy Chung’s predecessor. For infrastructure projects like this, minimally you would require almost a decade of conceiving the project, planning the project, getting the approval and so on, so may I suggest we also give Andrew a big round of applause.

 

THEi was launched in 2012 in Tsing Yi, offering innovative, self-financed degree programmes. As Roy noted, it has gone from a modest half-a-dozen offerings, and only about 200 students, to 20 degree programmes catering to the interests of more than 3,000 students today. And it will continue to expand to 22 degree programmes in the 2019-20 academic year.

 

There are good reasons behind its soaring growth. THEi’s close collaboration with the Hong Kong workforce is certainly one of them. At last count, more than 300 industry partners were associated with THEi, taking full advantage of its enviable flow of talented young graduates who are well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for employment upon graduation. Its bachelor’s degree in horticulture and landscape development, for example, is Hong Kong’s very first horticulture programme, graduating professionals in arboriculture, horticulture and tree and landscape management. Capitalising on its collaboration with industry, THEi also supports research activities, equipping graduates with leading-edge knowledge to meet the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.

 

The opening of this Chai Wan campus showcases our Government’s ardent support of vocational and professional education and training (VPET) institutions. Beyond the subvented programmes provided by the Vocational Training Council, we have, in recent years, promoted self-financing institutions, including THEi, through a variety of initiatives that enable their development and provision of quality programmes. These include the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors and the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies.

 

In the current academic year, THEi offers 12 programmes under the Study Subsidy Scheme, in disciplines such as architecture and engineering, creative industries and computer science. It also provides 28 programmes under the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme, covering disciplines ranging from the culinary arts and management to fashion design.

 

In short, self-financing post-secondary institutions now play a significant role in offering and promoting VPET programmes. We are committed to supporting the sustainable development of the self-financing sector, and the Education Bureau is studying in detail the recommendations of a review on self-financing post-secondary education made by a task force led by Prof Anthony Cheung.

 

We are no less committed to VPET in higher education – to ensuring that our young people can choose from multiple pathways in gaining the education they need for the future they want. VPET is central to those options, not only because of its focus on technical education and practical training. Equally essential is VPET’s whole-person development, the IT expertise and innovation it delivers and the soft skills and international exposure it imparts. Last April, my Government set up a Task Force on Promotion of VPET. It has been considering how VPET can better respond to the diverse abilities and interests of our young people, as well as create closer ties with business to meet the manpower needs of Hong Kong through this century of boundless opportunity. Next month, the task force will conduct a public consultation on its preliminary recommendations. Roy is the chairman of the task force, so I look to you to provide me with your recommendations after the public consultation.

 

The grand opening of THEi’s new Chai Wan Campus takes us another vital step forward in the development of VPET in higher education and training. I had, just now, a quick tour around the campus, and was impressed by its many purpose-built facilities as well as the public space which will no doubt provide an innovative and sustainable learning environment for the students. I am grateful to all those who have contributed to the development of this dynamic campus. I wish THEi, its students and faculty the best of education and a flourishing future.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Technological & Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong Chai Wan Campus opening ceremony on April 18.

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Tech dev’t encouraged: CE

Given our status as a leading international dispute resolution centre in Asia Pacific, I believe that Hong Kong is indeed the ideal location for this event, which brings together 500 professionals from various sectors to exchange ideas on the settlement of disputes.

 

The theme of today’s conference is New Era of Global Collaboration. It is a timely theme, for we need global collaboration more than ever to tackle the daunting challenges faced by the world. Uneven growth, diverging trade policies, financial instability and trade and investment disputes are rife worldwide. Indeed, the United Nations 2019 World Economic Situation & Prospects report notes that last year saw an upswing in trade tensions and a steep escalation in the number of disputes raised under the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization. Beyond the more visible trade disputes, climate change and biodiversity challenges all call for global solutions.

 

An increase in international trade and investment disputes seems to be inevitable given the growth in cross-border economic activities and transactions, especially in Asia. Buoyed by domestic demand, Asia’s GDP is expected to grow 6.1% a year on average between now and 2023. Hong Kong is taking full advantage of that growth. Nine of our top 10 trading partners are from Asia, and they accounted for almost 80% of our merchandise trade in 2017. Given the Free Trade Agreement & related Investment Agreement between Hong Kong and the ASEAN, which were signed in 2017 and are expected to come into force later this year after the necessary ratification process, trade and investment in this region are bound to flourish in the years and decades to come.

 

Hong Kong, as a founding member of the World Trade Organization and a staunch supporter of free trade, would no doubt welcome trade growth. The key is to manage and settle the increasing number of disputes that come with it. In this regard, conventional litigation alone will not prove sufficient. Arbitration, given its established international conventions, rules and norms, has long been used to settle international disputes. And mediation is gradually sharing arbitration’s spotlight in international dispute resolution. Mediation’s attractions are many. It works to achieve an amicable resolution, given that settlements must be reached voluntarily. And that, of course, is conducive to maintaining business relationships among the parties involved.

 

That said, the lack of an effective method for enforcing mediated agreements has been an impediment to its international development. In that regard, I am pleased to note the approval, last year, of the Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation and its subsequent adoption by the United Nations General Assembly. The mediation convention, with its enhanced enforceability, is expected to boost mediation, particularly investment mediation, as a global means of dispute resolution.

 

HK dedicated to mediation

Hong Kong is actively preparing for that reality, providing dedicated training for investment mediators. The first Investment Law & Investor-State Mediator Training in Asia took place here last October. More than 50 dispute resolution practitioners and government officials from Asia and beyond took part.

 

As an international legal and dispute resolution services centre in the Asia Pacific region, Hong Kong will continue to follow closely the development on international mediation and arbitration, while embracing the immense opportunities that may emerge. Thanks to our “one country, two systems” framework, Hong Kong maintains our common law system, underpinned by an independent judiciary and a deep and varied pool of legal practitioners from all over the world. Hong Kong’s judicial independence is recognised internationally and is ranked eighth among 140 economies. According to World Bank’s World Governance Indicators, Hong Kong’s percentile ranking in the rule of law has improved from 70% in 1996 to 94% in 2017, showing that the rule of law in Hong Kong has continued to improve over the years. Let me add that 14 eminent judges from other common law jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, currently sit on our Court of Final Appeal as non-permanent judges, which in itself is a testimony to our rule of law and independent judiciary.

 

Our economic system is no less attractive. We maintain a free-market economy, offering a simple and low tax regime and a level playing field for companies. The Heritage Foundation has named Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for the past 25 years in a row. The Fraser Institute also ranks us consistently the first in economic freedom.

 

I&T a priority

Those are our traditional strengths, and we are also developing new ones. In particular, innovation and technology is a policy priority of my Government, and Hong Kong is catching up quickly on that front. We are encouraging the application of technology in almost every aspect of our economy and society, including justice for cross-border disputes. A representative from our Department of Justice is chairing a Working Group in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which has developed a framework for the online resolution of cross-border, business-to-business disputes. It will cut costs and overcome the geographical distance between parties involved. It will also promote the use of dispute-resolution services internationally.

 

To support APEC’s work, non-governmental organisations here are creating an electronic Business Related Arbitration & Mediation system, or eBRAM in short. eBRAM is being developed as a secure and cost-effective deal-making and dispute-resolution online service for cross-border commercial and trade disputes, including those relating to projects under the Belt & Road Initiative. My Government is providing close to US$20 million to support eBRAM’s development and initial operation. We hope that eBRAM could facilitate business operation and achieve better access to justice by providing easily accessible and affordable dispute resolution services. We also hope that it could demonstrate Hong Kong’s unique competitiveness under the “one country, two systems” principle in addressing the service need of various jurisdictions with different legal traditions.

 

Hong Kong is determined, and my Government is committed, to Hong Kong’s continuing rise as centre for international legal and dispute-resolution services. 

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the International Dispute Resolution Conference 2019 on April 17.

via Moroccan Trader Tech dev’t encouraged: CE