Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended two events on Sept 11 and delivered a speech at each, in which she revealed some details of a development blueprint the fifth-term special administrative region government has drawn for Hong Kong. At the Belt and Road Summit jointly hosted by the SAR government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), she said the SAR government is in talks with relevant central government departments over a new agreement on cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative. Lam said the central government will support Hong Kong in taking full advantage of “one country, two systems” because the cosmopolitan city plays a key role in the strategic initiative. Understandably, the new cooperation agreement will be another milestone in Hong Kong-mainland economic and trade ties after the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).
At the Youth Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship Forum organized by the Hong Kong X-Tech Startup Platform last week, the CE said the SAR government will provide favorable conditions and environment for technology and innovation startups in eight aspects, including increasing resources for research and development, gathering talented researchers in science and technology, providing funds for innovation startups, stepping up construction of infrastructure and scientific research facilities, reviewing existing laws and regulations so as to find and remove the clauses that hinder technology development, opening up relevant data in the government’s possession, altering the government procurement rules to encourage local technology and innovation, and enhancing education development.
The CE quoted Professor Li Zexiang of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as saying in an interview that Hong Kong enjoys extraordinary advantages in higher education, such as a relaxed environment, free information and complete financial and judicial systems, all of which should be able to turn the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into China’s answer to the United States’ “Silicon Valley” if Hong Kong’s strengths in higher education are combined with the industrial chains of the Pearl River Delta region.
On both occasions Lam presented a development blueprint for Hong Kong in the next five to 10 years featuring “one point and two aspects”. “Two aspects” refer to the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area; while “one point” refers to greater efforts in developing technology and innovation to push forward the development of new industries and realize the transformation into a knowledge-centered economy. That will help blaze a new trail for Hong Kong’s economy to sustain stable growth.
To make Hong Kong’s development blueprint real, people from all walks of life must focus their attention and energy on economic and livelihood issues. To do so Hong Kong society must eliminate political distractions such as the separatism advocacy. And to do so Hong Kong society must keep in mind that time is a luxury it cannot afford to waste. As Lam pointed out, Hong Kong has some advantages but that doesn’t mean it has already won; needless to say competitiveness depends on hard work and it’s gone as soon as one relaxes.
Hong Kong must never give up no matter how many difficulties it encounters while implementing the development blueprint. As Lam reminded people recently: “Innovation and startup come with risks. Young people must be mentally prepared to face business failure. An old saying goes like ‘failure is the mother of success’, which means we must get up where we fall and never give up.”
The city’s development needs a target ahead to reach and surpass and it is the SAR government’s responsibility to identify. Lam mentioned in her speech Singapore, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Hangzhou. Indeed those places all have their own unique strengths and Hong Kong can certainly learn from each and every one of them. And then there is Shanghai, which no doubt is working very hard to become a leading technology and innovation center in the world, with considerable achievements to boot. It boasts some cutting-edge tech sectors that know exactly what they are doing and how to stay ahead. Hong Kong should have the same mentality if it wishes to excel in technology and innovation, beginning by rekindling the “Lion Rock Spirit”, which made Hong Kong an “Asian Tiger” in the 1960s-70s, and letting it shine in the 21st century.
(The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings)
(Published on Page 9, China Daily Hong Kong Edition, September 21, 2017)