Carrie Lam

Hong Kong chief executive vows to do more to promote city’s innovation and technology ambitions on the global stage

Speaking at the end of her first year in office, Carrie Lam says she wants to ensure Hong Kong is not just seen as ‘another Chinese city’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 8:29pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 11:15pm

Hong Kong should not be seen as just “another Chinese city”, but an international financial centre that is taking innovation and technology seriously, the city’s top official said on Sunday as she pledged to do more to promote the city around the world.

Speaking in a group interview summing up her first year in office, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also promised that Hong Kong would benefit from Beijing’s “Greater Bay Area” project, which seeks to establish the city and its 10 neighbouring Chinese cities as a global financial and innovation hub to rival Silicon Valley.

“We will find substantive [policy] items to work on so that people in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau can feel that this is a vibrant bay area that has much to offer in terms of opportunities,” she said.

Lam added that the Greater Bay Area plan would help Hong Kong’s economic development, especially its innovation and technology (I&T) sectors. The government would continue to promote the city abroad and attract overseas partners to come and set up more high-level innovation and scientific research centres, she pledged.

“I have read a few media reports about I&T companies [abroad] saying that Hong Kong is now serious about innovation and technology … This shows that our work has started to bear fruit,” she said.

Lam had recently appointed Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu to replace Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun as the new chief of Hong Kong’s Science Park, sparking speculation over whether the government wanted someone less blunt to head the institution.

But Lam said Law would continue to advise the government as a member of the Executive Council.

“Don’t overreact … or interpret it as whether some people are in disagreement with each other,” she said.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says government morale and unity has improved during her first year in office

Lam also said will also keep in touch with Beijing’s current and former officials on promoting I&T in Hong Kong. One of the key players will be China’s former science and technology minister Wan Gang, who is now president of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, a top research institute in Beijing.

Last week, Lam had a formal meeting with Vice-Premier Han Zheng, which was Lam’s first since Han was appointed to take charge of Hong Kong affairs and the Greater Bay Area plan.

Lam said on Sunday that it was “very good” for Hong Kong that Han is now taking charge of the plan, because the state leader used to be Shanghai’s Communist Party chief.

“He managed such a large city before … and supervised the city’s development in the Yangtze River Delta. [Shanghai’s experience] is a very good reference for us,” she argued.

In the past year, Lam has visited overseas countries nine times, while her predecessor Leung Chun-ying only had one overseas visit in his first year in office from 2012 to 2013.

Lam explained that was because she did not want Hong Kong to be lost on the world map.

“My trips were to promote Hong Kong’s international status … Some international business chambers in Hong Kong [were worried previously] that the city was getting less well-known around the world, and people thought that we are just another Chinese city,” she revealed.

Lam pledged to continue with both her mainland and overseas visits in the years to come. She said she will visit Japan later this year. The city’s commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah could also visit the United States in the coming months, the Post has learned.

She said as chief secretary, or the city’s No 2 official from 2012 to 2017, she visited countries such as the United States. These trips convinced her that it is important to meet foreign state leaders face-to-face and explain to them about Hong Kong’s latest developments, she added.