Motion on “Formulating a Comprehensive Blueprint for Industries to Promote the Industrial Development of Hong Kong” (2022.05.19)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Thank you, President. Hong Kong’s economic structure has long been in an unbalanced state, which mainly relies on finance, real estate, professional services industries, etc., making the economic foundation of Hong Kong not sound enough, members of the public not able to fully share the fruits of prosperity, and the youths short of opportunities for upward mobility. In fact, since Hong Kong’s reunification with China, the Governments of previous terms have been committed to developing emerging industries, but little progress was made due to various obstacles. Nowadays, Hong Kong is making great efforts to build a strong administration, and this is the right time to develop emerging industries in full swing.

Hong Kong industries, which had been in decline in 1970s and 1980s, have seen rosy prospect again in recent years driven by high and new technologies. The Government made re-industrialization a policy priority in 2016 and proposed the establishment of Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau earlier this year, officially paving the way for the development of re-industrialization. Nowadays, industrialization as referred by the Government means high-end I&T industries, which do not require a lot of land or labour force, but emphasize the importance of R&D, international markets, intellectual property, logistics and taxation. Hong Kong has strengths in all these areas. Moreover, the I&T industry does not necessarily require all processes to be undertaken in Hong Kong. One of the options for Hong Kong is to serve as the coordination and logistics centre for I&T enterprises and to be responsible for R&D, market development and automated production process, while those processes requiring a lot of land and labours can be undertaken by factories in GBA. This cooperation model may suit Hong Kong even better.

The original motion proposed that, apart from emerging industries, the Government should also support traditional industries, and improve the contents of “Made in Hong Kong” to promote local brands. I think this proposal deserves support. However, the difficulties of development are also fairly high, including the land and labour force required, the shortage of which has plagued Hong Kong for a long time. Moreover, high production cost is also a key problem. Therefore, I hope the industry can come up with more insights for the community to examine.

In fact, although the development of Hong Kong’s I&T industry is still on the drawing board, everything can be said to be ready. Speaking of funds, the Government has put in a huge sum of about $130 billion. Speaking of land, in addition to existing sites including the Science Park, Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop and San Tin Technopole are also under construction. Speaking of R&D, the positive interaction among the Government, industry, academic and research sectors have been greatly enhanced, and talent training has also been strengthened. Speaking of government policy, the 14th Five-Year Plan has expressly supported Hong Kong to become an international I&T centre, and GBA will be an important partner for Hong Kong’s development.

Therefore, Hong Kong indeed has everything ready except one thing, which is domestic and foreign investors. While the Government can provide adequate hardware, for an industry to take root, it requires a large number of investors to come to Hong Kong to set up companies after all. The industry is still in the planning stage. When everything is in place, the Government will have to seek ways to entice investors from home and abroad. Frankly speaking, it is absolutely no easy task to attract enough investors, which is also of crucial importance to the success or otherwise of the industry. While Hong Kong has devoted considerable efforts, resources and energy, we cannot afford any failure this time. When the critical juncture in future comes, we must fully seize the opportunity.

In fact, Hong Kong adopted a non-intervention policy before the reunification and would not proactively solicit investors. Although there have been changes after the reunification, investment promotion work is very conservative and passive. In contrast, our competitor Singapore not only actively liaises with investors, but also provides them with tailor-made preferential measures and assistance throughout the process. As a result, their achievements are obvious to all. I hope various government departments in Hong Kong, seeing the success of others, will genuinely realize that they do need to improve in lots of areas, as many organizations in Hong Kong still think they have done a pretty good job. I hope they will make changes sincerely in this regard.

As the promotion of the I&T industry allows no room for failure this time, the Government must have a new way of thinking. Instead of just conducting publicity and promotion activities, it should also proactively reach out to competent I&T enterprises and directly invite them to invest in Hong Kong by offering them tailor-made preferential policies, and should even help these enterprises more wholeheartedly with all-out effort to resolve any difficulties they face. Moreover, many United States-listed Chinese I&T companies will come to Hong Kong for listing in future. The Government should also take the initiative to contact the companies concerned, striving to get them to set up production centres in Hong Kong at the same time. Thank you, President.

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