CE begins visit to UK (with photos/videos)

     The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, began her visit programme in London, the United Kingdom (UK), shortly after her arrival this morning (September 20, London time).

     Accompanied by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, and the Chairman of the MTR Corporation (MTRC), Professor Frederick Ma, Mrs Lam's first stop was a visit to Crossrail, a major railway line project  operated by the MTRC. The project will link up the east and west parts of London on completion, which is expected to be in late 2019. Commending the good progress the MTRC has made in expanding its railway business in the UK and elsewhere overseas, Mrs Lam said it reflected the international recognition of the quality of Hong Kong's transport operating services.

     At noon, Mrs Lam and Mr Yau attended a lunch cum roundtable discussion to exchange views with local key players in the art and design field. She said that cultural links between Hong Kong and the UK have always been close and that artworks exhibited in Hong Kong by many world-class British artists have been well received by members of the public. Noting that Hong Kong is committed to developing the creative industries to further diversify the economy and provide quality job opportunities for young people, she said she looked forward to establishing closer cultural ties with the UK to enrich the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong. She also briefed the participants about the West Kowloon Cultural District project, which she said is a testament to the commitment of the Government to develop Hong Kong into an international art and cultural hub.

     Mrs Lam, joined by the Minister of State at the Department for Education of the UK, Mr Nick Gibb, later attended a roundtable discussion organised by the British Council with stakeholders in education. Emphasising that education is a priority for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, Mrs Lam said she launched $3.6 billion in new resources for quality education shortly after taking office, benefiting schools, teachers and students. She also exchanged views with participants on teachers' empowerment and professional development.

     Mrs Lam and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Philip Hammond, then witnessed the signing of the FinTech Bridge Agreement between Hong Kong and the UK. Mr Yau and the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr James Lau, also attended the ceremony. Covering government-to-government, regulator-to-regulator and industry-to-industry co-operation, the agreement encourages financial technology (FinTech) firms in both Hong Kong and the UK to use the facilities and assistance available in each other's place to explore new business opportunities, promoting financial innovation in both places.

     After the signing ceremony, Mrs Lam, Mr Yau and Mr Lau had a meeting with Mr Hammond. She said that both Hong Kong and London are important international financial centres which may learn from each other in many aspects. Noting that the UK is a world leader in FinTech and Hong Kong is the largest global offshore Renminbi centre, she expressed the hope that the HKSAR Government would enhance collaboration with the UK in FinTech, including exchanges in FinTech policy and regulatory expertise. They also discussed other issues including new business opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and green finance.

     In the evening, Mrs Lam and other officials attended the Hong Kong Dinner in London organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Noting in her address at the event that Hong Kong has this year marked the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the successful implementation of "one country, two systems", she said that the rule of law and judicial independence, which are the cornerstone of Hong Kong's success, are safeguarded by the Basic Law and would not waver. On economic development, Mrs Lam pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative would be the growth engine for Hong Kong and countries along the Belt and Road and that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area city cluster development plan would boost the strategic role of Hong Kong in the Mainland economy. Hong Kong would leverage on its advantages to seize the opportunities brought about by these two national initiatives, she said.

     Mrs Lam will continue her visit to London tomorrow (September 21, London time).

Ends/Thursday, September 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 3:00