Xinhua News Agency on Monday reported that 24 Hong Kong-based academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering jointly wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping expressing their strong desire and enthusiasm to contribute to the country’s science-technology development. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, has instructed related central government departments to take necessary measures soon. The president emphasized the importance of enhancing cooperation between sci-tech communities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Chinese mainland. He also supports Hong Kong’s efforts to build an international innovation and technology development center and facilitating its sci-tech community’s desire to contribute to the country’s sci-tech development and great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
This is further evidence that Xi has long been interested in Hong Kong and its development. He has issued multiple instructions since February regarding Hong Kong affairs. On Feb 6, after hearing world-renowned sinologist Jao Tsung-i had died in Hong Kong, he immediately asked the director of the Central People’s Government’s Liaison Office in the HKSAR to relay his heartfelt condolences to Jao’s family. After a serious traffic accident killed 19 passengers and injured 63 others onboard a KMB bus in Tai Po on Feb 10, Xi also instructed the Liaison Office to pass on his condolences to the SAR government as well as the victims’ families and commended the emergency response by relevant departments of the HKSAR. On Feb 24, in reply to a letter by members of the Junior Police Call, a non-government youth organization in Hong Kong, he sent personal greetings and good wishes to these teenagers. All this, including his instructions to central government departments on facilitating the Hong Kong sci-tech community’s desire to participate in the nation’s sci-tech development, shows Xi cares about the HKSAR and is committed to his responsibilities.
This also indicates Xi’s determination to advance the exercise of “one country, two systems” with effective measures. He noted that this is conducive to implementation of “one country, two systems” to enhance HKSAR-mainland cooperation in sci-tech development, support Hong Kong’s efforts to become an international inno-tech center, let the mainland and Hong Kong maximize their sci-tech strengths and facilitate efforts to boost economic development and improve people’s livelihoods. He instructed central government departments to respond to all the issues mentioned in the letter written by 24 Hong Kong-based CAS and CAE academicians with special policy measures. These departments, including the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Finance, have made policy adjustments to address issues hindering the Hong Kong sci-tech community from participating in national sci-tech development projects. Those measures include treating Hong Kong’s inno-tech strengths as an integral part of the country’s overall capabilities; in respect to the country’s overall development plan and Hong Kong’s development, finding ways to increase cooperation between the mainland and the HKSAR in sci-tech development; and working with the Liaison Office in obtaining suggestions from the SAR government as well as the local sci-tech community on issues to be addressed first.
According to the Xinhua report above, two of the outstanding issues listed in the letter to Xi that required policy solutions from the top down — allowing State funding for national research projects to be transferred to Hong Kong by local research institutions and import tariff cuts on research equipment from overseas — have been resolved. The national plan for key research and development projects has confirmed direct support for 16 Hong Kong and Macao-based partner laboratories of State key research labs on the mainland. It will also make policy arrangements aimed at facilitating research activities in Hong Kong and Macao by partner sci-tech institutions — first on a trial basis. Research facilities set up by Hong Kong-based sci-tech institutions on the mainland already receive support from the central government in the form of import-tariff reductions. Two partner labs attached to national key research projects are directly supported by the state sci-tech development program through special arrangements. Next, relevant departments of the central government will take steps according to Xi’s instructions to help Hong Kong and Macao-based sci-tech researchers contribute to the national sci-tech development program in person and expand mainland-Hong Kong cooperation in sci-tech development in an orderly fashion.
The inclusion of Hong Kong’s sci-tech community as an integral part of the country’s inno-tech development program reflects the central government’s hope for the HKSAR to further integrate its development into the overall development strategy of the nation. It also shows Xi’s appreciation for and confidence in Hong Kong’s patriotic sci-tech community.
（The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings）
（Published on Page 7, China Daily Hong Kong Edition, May 15, 2018）