Alibaba founder Jack Ma urges young people to help solve both Hong Kong and global problems
Head of world’s largest e-commerce platform says at HKU ceremony that education in future should teach what machines cannot, such as creativity and imagination
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, urged young people in the city to look beyond Hong Kong and think about how to solve global problems as he received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Hong Kong on Friday.
“Real businesspeople make money by solving social problems for others,” Ma said after receiving the degree from HKU chancellor and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
“Today, people say Hong Kong has a lot of problems. Any city has problems,” he said.
“People say Hong Kong’s young people have problems. Any young person has problems.”
He said he was confident Hong Kong would “solve these problems”.
Ma said that he had met Lam five times during the past six months, and that they had discussed young people, innovation and the city’s future.
He said the world’s future would be shaped by new technology, bringing challenges in almost all aspects of people’s lives, especially in education.
“Everything that we taught our kids in the past 200 years, machines will do better [in the future],” he said.
Educators should teach what machines were not capable of, such as creativity and independent thinking, he added.
It was the second honorary doctorate that Ma received in the city, having been conferred one by the University of Science and Technology in 2013.
Ma holds a bachelor’s degree in English language education from the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute.
In 1995, he founded China’s first online business directory, China Pages, and went on to establish online retailing platform Alibaba.com in 1999.
Alibaba is now the world’s largest e-commerce platform.
Ma established the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund in 2015 to foster and support start-ups in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.
HKU on Friday also awarded an honorary doctorate to David Mong Tak-yeung, chairman and CEO of Shun Hing Group, as well as one to physical chemist Professor Tang Ching-wan.
Tang invented the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) used in creating displays in devices such as television screens, computer monitors and mobile phones.
He is a professor at the HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study, and at the University of Rochester in New York. He grew up in Hong Kong and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a doctorate from Cornell University in the United States.
Tang was a researcher at the Kodak Research Laboratories in the US between 1986 and 1989, during which time he discovered OLED and developed a method to create full-colour displays with it.
OLED technology is now a multibillion-dollar industry.
Mong holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as an MBA from the state’s Santa Clara University.
He worked at Panasonic Japan from 1985 to 1989 before joining Shun Hing Electronic Trading as executive director in 1991.
Mong is a director of the HKU Foundation – a charitable group that supports the university’s development.
He also sits on the governing board of the Prince Philip Dental Hospital.