HK plays key Belt-Road role

April 26, 2018

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The Belt & Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping offers what the global economy needs in the 21st century - a way forward that we can all embrace and a future built on co-operation, mutual benefits and friendship. So far, more than 270 agreements or deliverables have been entered into among the economies along the Belt & Road corridors. These agreements and projects are cross-border, with extensive coverage ranging from infrastructure, finance, trade and commerce, information technology and digital development to agriculture, poverty alleviation, healthcare, environmental protection and conservation.


Hong Kong is destined to play an important role in the development of the Belt & Road Initiative. As a highly open economy with extensive connections and international experience, we are the freest market in the world, allowing free flow of trade, capital, goods, talent and information whilst keeping close ties with our Motherland. Our strengths and unique position as the gateway connecting overseas businesses with their Mainland counterparts have made Hong Kong an indispensable player in the Belt & Road Initiative.


Last December, we signed the Arrangement between the National Development & Reform Commission & the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for Advancing Hong Kong's Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt & Road Initiative. This arrangement is most important as it allows Hong Kong to give full play to our unique advantages under "one country, two systems" to contribute to the nation on the one hand, whilst seizing those opportunities brought by the initiative to provide new impetus for our economic growth on the other.


According to the Asian Development Bank, it is estimated that Asia will require an infrastructure investment of US$1.7 trillion per year until 2030. Power supply is the key to the development of any economy. Numerous energy infrastructural projects, including power plants and electricity grid developments, are being taken forward in Belt & Road economies such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, where some of the graduates today come from.


As a dynamic international financial centre, coupled with our strong tradition of rule of law and a fiercely independent judiciary, Hong Kong is well-placed as a "one-stop" platform for raising funds and sourcing the necessary professional services for Belt & Road projects. Our deep pool of world-class multi-disciplinary talent offers a wide spectrum of professional services across different sectors, not only in the electricity industry but also in law and particularly in arbitration services, accounting, engineering, architecture, management, consulting and more.


Indeed, Hong Kong enterprises and professionals are already participating in quite a number of big-ticket infrastructural projects in regions along the Belt & Road. Some notable examples include power plants in Thailand and Vietnam, the metro system in Saudi Arabia, airports in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, as well as a waste management system in Bangladesh.


I should add that our professional services and expertise are of world-class standards. For instance, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation currently runs the railway in Stockholm of Sweden and Melbourne of Australia, the Cross Rail in London of the UK, as well as part of the rail services in Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. It will shortly also run the Metro in Sydney of Australia and the new light rail system in neighbouring Macau.


People-to-people links form an integral part of this very ambitious initiative. To this end, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is committed to promoting educational co-operation and exchanges with the Belt & Road countries. We have launched the Hong Kong Scholarship for "Belt & Road" Students to attract outstanding students from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to pursue undergraduate studies in Hong Kong. At the same time, we have also introduced a new subsidy scheme to encourage and support students in Hong Kong to participate in exchange programmes in the Belt & Road region.


The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government spares no effort to work with all quarters in Hong Kong to seize the opportunities offered by the Belt & Road.


Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Belt & Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power & Energy Graduation Ceremony.

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