Hong Kong should use its position as a bridge between China and Southeast Asia to help the world understand more about the relationship between the two, a former University of Hong Kong vice-chancellor has urged.
In a speech at the inauguration ceremony this week for the Southeast Asia Research Centre (Searc) at City University, Professor Wang Gungwu said Hong Kong could be more than just a geographical bridge.
Its role as an international city could facilitate exchanges with different countries with regard to developments in the region, he said. Professor Wang, HKU's vice-chancellor between 1986 and 1995 and now director of the Singapore-based East Asian Institute, added that research interest in the region has grown significantly since the Second World War. 'China used to see Southeast Asia as trading partners with its coastal areas, but it has become aware of its strategic importance and the economic strength of overseas Chinese there,' he stressed.
Projects at Searc, the first institute dedicated to regional research, are not confined to issues related to overseas Chinese. Planned research areas include globalisation and ethnic and intra-regional issues.
One of the centre's functions is to establish networks and alliances with overseas institutions, and to organise international conferences, seminars and workshops for the public and academics.
One core member of the centre, political science professor Cheng Yu-shek, hoped that it would 'help enrich the discipline of Asian studies'. Hong Kong had become attractive to researchers because it offered good research conditions and access to information, he said.