Pony Ma: Creating a ‘Bay Area’ for tech firms in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau needs Beijing’s support

Billionaire chief of Tencent says Hong Kong is perfectly positioned to become a global tech hub, attracting talent from around the globe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 March, 2017, 11:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 11:26pm

Chinese billionaire Pony Ma Huateng, who heads one of Asia’s largest internet empires, has called for Beijing to offer more policies to encourage better collaboration with Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, in order to turn China’s “Bay Area” into a hub for world-leading technology companies.

Ma, chairman and chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-listed Tencent Holdings, said on Friday that Hong Kong is well positioned, as an international finance city, to ride the mainland’s technology wave and attract top talent from overseas.

Ma sees Hong Kong as a “super liaison” to connect start-ups and investors and a build a “habitat” for high-end talent from across the world, as he raised the Hong Kong, Guangdong, Macau Bay Area proposal.

“Hong Kong’s advanced financial services, combined with Shenzhen’s strength in innovation and the Pearl River Delta’s manufacturing power, the region has great potential to become a prosperous metropolitan [area] powered by cutting-edge technologies,” said Ma, whose Shenzhen-based Tencent operates China’s largest social and entertainment network.

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The comments came as Ma, a deputy of China’s National People Congress, discussed his proposals to a packed audience before the opening of the annual NPC meeting on Sunday.

The San Francisco Bay Area attracts 40 per cent of the venture capital fund in the United States and is home to high-profile tech firms, such as Google and Apple.

The concept of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau-Bay Area was envisioned years ago, but Ma said the timing to spur better synergy has come with the soon-to-open Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

He said that developing a world-leading tech zone requires the integration of hardware, software and service and the area has the perfect combination of resources for better synergies to take place, while calling for Beijing to offer more encouraging policies.

He took the example of drone maker DJI-Innovations, which was initially founded in a Hong Kong university dormitory and now prospers in Shenzhen, becoming the world’s largest drone maker.

“The founder of DJI had to move to Shenzhen for the city’s supply chain,” he said, emphasising the importance of collaboration.

Ma said he hopes the new Hong Kong government will be more open in terms of offering more green cards and lower income taxes in order to attract more international talent.

“Tencent is located in Shenzhen. We have attracted many high-tech talents as they can easily come and go between Shenzhen and Kong Kong,” he said.