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Speech by CE at opening ceremony of Internet Economy Summit 2016 (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the opening ceremony of the Internet Economy Summit 2016 this morning (April 13):

Deputy Director Xu Lin (Cyberspace Administration of China), Deputy Director Qiu Hong (Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), President Ma Li (China Internet Development Foundation), distinguished guests, government colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. On the occasion of the first Internet Economy Summit, welcome to Hong Kong. My gratitude goes to the Cyberspace Administration of China, China Internet Development Foundation, our strategic partner and co-organisers for supporting this Summit. I would also like to thank the distinguished speakers, moderators and panelists for sharing their vision and wisdom with us.

     The Internet is, arguably, the single most important breakthrough in communication in the last century. According to Internet Live Stats, a website that tracks live information technology statistics, every 10 seconds the world sends nearly 25 million emails, makes 540 000 searches and views 1.2 million videos through the most popular search engine and video site.

     Real-time information, live entertainment, instant connectivity, perhaps more than any other communication tool in history, the Internet has revolutionised our social, economic, cultural and even political life.

     Consider this: In 1995, less than one per cent of the world's population had an Internet connection. Today, about 40 per cent - some 3.4 billion people - use the Internet. Last year, a study found that mobile Internet generated around US$700 billion a year in revenue in the 13 countries that make up about 70 per cent of global GDP. This is projected to grow to US$1.55 trillion by next year. Mobile Internet also created employment for about 3 million people in those 13 countries.

     Competitiveness of the Hong Kong economy, and indeed economies around the world, depends on our capability in harnessing the Internet's potential. Information technology not only drives growth of the digital economy, but also catalyses innovation. Nowadays, the world's most successful enterprises, including the companies you represent, are beneficiaries of innovation and technology. Say, for example, supply chain technologies that improve productivity and product quality, or online sales that transform the buying experience of consumers.

     In China's 13th Five-Year-Plan, innovation and technology have taken centre stage in national development. China encourages "mass entrepreneurship and innovation" (大眾創業、萬眾創新) in consumption, manufacturing processes, industries, investment, funding and many other aspects. Indeed, the strategic policies "Internet Plus" and "Made in China 2025" are underpinned by innovation.

     Hong Kong is perfectly positioned to ride on the tide of "re-industrialisation" - to develop high value-added innovation and technology industries. We are blessed with first-class technological infrastructure. Our mobile subscription rate is among the highest in the world, counting more than two mobile devices per person on average. Our Internet connection speed is among the world's fastest, and our household broadband penetration rate exceeds 80 per cent.

     This good base is bolstered by the systems in place that have long made Hong Kong an international business centre. I am talking about our sound legal system, robust intellectual property protection regime, free flow of information and our university research talent. All these create a favourable environment in which innovation and technology can flourish.

     Under the "one country, two systems" arrangement, Hong Kong "super-connects" the Mainland of China and the rest of the world. We are part of China and at the same time an international city with a separate social and economic system. This enables us to enjoy the comparative advantages of both "one country" and "two systems". Being close to Shenzhen, a city that is an hour's drive from here and one that has a population of 20 million, with the highest GDP per capita on the Mainland and the Greater Pearl River Delta Region, which is one of the most important industrial bases in the country, Hong Kong can reap the benefits of regional collaboration and, in particular, the remarkable industrial productivity of our neighbour cities.

     On this note, I am pleased to witness, in a short while, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Mainland's Smart City Development Alliance and Hong Kong's Smart City Consortium. I have no doubt many fruitful exchanges will come along between the two places.

     We welcome companies and organisations, from the Mainland of China, and other parts of the world, to set up offices and R&D operations here in Hong Kong, to take full advantage of our world-class infrastructure and our dynamic business environment. We are, indeed, a welcoming society, one that has open borders, and more importantly, open minds. We welcome competition as much as we welcome collaboration.

     As I said at the Science and Technology Innovation Summit last December, 2015 was a banner year for science, innovation and technology in Hong Kong. Among the many notable advances was the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau. Led by Secretary Nick Yang, the Bureau spearheads the long-term development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong. The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong set up last December will serve to co-ordinate and expand Hong Kong's co-operative network with scientists, entrepreneurs and institutions from all over the world.

     This year, we will continue our efforts in full swing. We are enhancing our competitiveness in the global digital economy, in areas ranging from mobile Internet applications, e-commerce and Internet of Things.

     There is more. As I pledged in the annual Policy Address made public three months ago, we are building Hong Kong as a smart city. The Government will soon begin a consultancy study to create a smart-city blueprint for Hong Kong, encompassing transport, commerce, healthcare, the environment and so forth. The study will also identify suitable standards to ensure that we stay connected with other smart cities around the world.

     Five years ago, the Hong Kong Government set up a Public Sector Information portal to release data sets. These are in digital format and are machine-readable. We now make available more than 6 000 data sets from government departments, public bodies and commercial organisations.

     Responding to the global trend in big-data analytics, our Innovation and Technology Bureau will examine ways to make more effective use of big-data analytics in formulating policy and improving public services. Our on-going open-data initiative will be strengthened. The private sector, including start-ups, can make use of the data sets in developing new products and applications.

     I am pleased to note that entrepreneurship in Hong Kong is picking up, and picking up quickly. The numbers of start-ups, incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces are on the rise. Deal-flows and the amount of venture funds secured by our start-up community also increased notably.

     To accelerate this encouraging momentum, the Government will set up a HK$2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, investing in local technology start-ups together with private-venture capital funds. Cyberport, our flagship ICT industry support body, will also set up a HK$200 million Macro-Fund for investment in its ICT start-ups.

     As Hong Kong presses ahead with innovation and technology, I am confident that the Internet Economy Summit will keep our city and participants from other economies at the forefront of global development. I thank you again for your support, and we very much hope to make this a flagship event for the world's digital economy.

     I wish you all a memorable conference and an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 11:58


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