The following is the speech (English only) by Secretary for Information Technology & Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong, at the Seminar in honour of the President of the State of Israel, His Excellency Ezer Weizman, today (Friday):
President Weizman, Mr Halfon, Mr Livnat, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr President, may I first extend my warmest welcome to you and your delegation. It is indeed a great pleasure and an honour for me to be invited to speak at today's seminar organised by Mr Halfon, the Consul-General of Israel in Hong Kong.
Mr President, during the visit of our Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, to Israel last February, he was highly impressed by the approach adopted by your Government in the promotion of innovation and technology in Israel. There is clearly much for us to learn from, especially as it is our Chief Executive's vision to make Hong Kong a leader, not a follower, in the information world of tomorrow.
To realise this vision of the Chief Executive, the HKSAR Government has formulated the "Digital 21" Information Technology Strategy. This is a comprehensive strategy to enhance and promote Hong Kong's information infrastructure and services so as to make Hong Kong a leading digital city in the globally connected world of the 21st century.
A key element in that strategy is to promote multi-lateral and bilateral co-operation involving both the public and private sectors. Thus, in addition to active participation in various international fora, including the WTO, APEC and so on, we are also actively exploring opportunities to foster closer bilateral collaboration between Hong Kong and countries which are advanced in IT.
We have so far signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on IT co-operation with Canada and Australia. The primary objectives of these MOU are to promote two-way commercial and industrial exchanges, to facilitate the formation of business and technology partnerships, and to encourage the sharing of information and strategy on IT. The ultimate goal is to promote technological and economic growth of both parties.
Since the signature of the two MOUs mid-last year, we have already seen the successful conclusion of some collaborative ventures. For example, a major Australian interactive multimedia supplier is partnering with a Hong Kong software company to manufacture multimedia kiosks and phones to meet local demand. Another Australian software company is jointly developing a computerised security system for office and residential buildings with one of Hong Kong's largest security firms. There are also joint-venture projects between Hong Kong and Australian software companies on interactive educational software. As for Canada, we are working closely with the Canadian Government in a study to establish a territory-wide educational intranet in Hong Kong, similar to the Canadian SchoolNet. Also, some Canadian software firms are co-operating with Hong Kong schools on the development of educational software products customised for local use. Co-operation opportunities in the area of cyber learning are also being explored between the Canadian companies and training and tertiary institutions in Hong Kong.
The success of the two bilateral MOU on IT co-operation has encouraged us to look to extend this network to other countries, including of course, Israel with which we are keen to establish bilateral collaborative relationship. The areas of common interest can include hardware and software products and services, electronic commerce infrastructure and policy, data communications, broadband networks, and multimedia and Internet applications, to name just a few. I am glad to say that we have met with an enthusiastic response from the Government of Israel when we raised the proposal through the Israeli Consul-General in Hong Kong. And I look forward to the successful conclusion of an MOU on IT co-operation between Israel and Hong Kong before too long.
My presentation to you today will not be complete if I do not mention, at least briefly, one of our key initiatives on IT, namely the development of a Cyberport in Hong Kong. The Cyberport is intended to provide a world-class working and living environment for leading IT and information services companies (be they overseas or local). It will be developed as an ultra-modern intelligent building complex, equipped with state-of-the-art telecommunications and information backbones to meet the needs of such companies. The companies we are aiming to attract are primarily companies applying leading edge IT to create applications, solutions and services and also those adopting innovative ideas to create multimedia contents. Phase I of the Cyberport will be available for occupation by end 2001/early 2002. I am glad to say that eight leading IT and information services companies have already signed letters of intent to become anchor tenants of the Cyberport. We would warmly welcome leading Israeli information technology and services companies to become tenants of the Cyberport as well.
Mr President, I am confident that closer bilateral co-operation between Israel and Hong Kong in information technology will be mutually beneficial and rewarding. Although your visit to Hong Kong this time is brief, I hope you will find Hong Kong a good partner for Israel.
End/Friday, 29 April 1999