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Speech by CS at Queen's Birthday Party in Hong Kong (English only) (with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Queen's Birthday Party in Hong Kong today (April 21):

Consul General, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Good evening. I am delighted to join the Queen's Birthday Party in Hong Kong especially on Her Majesty's auspicious 90th birthday, for a second time as the Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government. On the last occasion in 2013, my attendance was preceded by a very fruitful official trip to London in late 2012 and I naturally spoke on that occasion about those happy encounters during the visit. As I am looking forward to another trip to London later this year, I want to share with you a few thoughts on what I see as opportunities for further collaboration between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom (UK), which I shall certainly pursue in my forthcoming visit.

     I do not need to remind our distinguished guests that Hong Kong and the UK have a special relationship which goes beyond trade and investment. These unique bilateral links are reflected in strong connections between our two governments, our businesses and our people. On a Government-to-Government (G-to-G) level, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy under "One Country, Two Systems" in conducting her external affairs in accordance with the Basic Law. Indeed, as the Consul-General has just reminded us of what the Foreign Secretary (Philip Hammond) said during his recent visit to Hong Kong, "One Country, Two Systems" is our best future. As Hong Kong is going to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR next year, I would go further to say that "One Country, Two Systems" is the best guarantee of Hong Kong's continued stability and prosperity. And it is for us to act in strict accordance with the Basic Law, including taking forward political reforms. Our Economic and Trade Office in London, which I have the honour of heading for about 18 months a decade ago, plays a pivotal role in pressing ahead with such G-to-G efforts. Seen in the context of our country's diplomacy, Hong Kong's relationship with the UK will clearly go from strength to strength following the highly successful state visit of President Xi Jinping. Indeed, the "super" state visit by President Xi last October, hosted by Her Majesty The Queen at the Buckingham Palace, has profoundly promoted Sino-British relations and opened a "golden era of the global comprehensive strategic partnership" between the two countries.

     On the business front, our bilateral trade in 2015 amounted to slightly over HK$100 billion. As at end-2014, direct investment from the UK in Hong Kong amounted to about HK$132 billion. Of the 7 904 Mainland and overseas companies setting up regional headquarters, regional offices and local offices in Hong Kong, around 8 per cent, or to be exact, 631 of them are from the UK. As the fifth largest destination of our outward direct investment, the total stock of Hong Kongˇ¦s direct investment in the UK amounted to HK$242 billion as at the end of 2014. Our business interests cover a wide range of sectors. I am particularly gratified to note that the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited is operating the London Overground as a joint-venture partner, and will be responsible for the operation of Crossrail upon commissioning. I am glad that our expertise in railway operation is able to contribute to the transport system in the UK.

     Our people-to-people links are deep and meaningful. And this is best reflected in education. After all, human resources are Hong Kongˇ¦s most valuable asset. Education in children represents the best investment of parents and governments, and it underpins Hong Kong's continued success. According to the British Council, around 24 000 Hong Kong students are studying in the UK, from secondary education to postgraduate programmes. Of the 92 awardees under the Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme launched in the 2015/16 school year, 73 or an overwhelming 80 per cent have chosen to study in UK universities. In the other direction, under the Scholarships for Excellence programme run by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, around 16 students studying at higher education institutions in England spend a semester or a full year in Hong Kong institutions in 2015/16. Our local education scene is also enriched by the development of new international schools in Hong Kong ˇV Harrow, Shrewsbury and Malvern, which are among the best educational institutions in the UK. Yesterday, I was officiating at the foundation stone laying ceremony of Malvern College's new campus next to the Hong Kong Science Park. I look forward to its completion in two years' time.

     This evening, I would like to highlight a sector which is about both business and people, and certainly will benefit from more G-to-G co-operation. And that is creative industries, which actually the Consul-General has touched upon, covering a wide range from design to arts and culture, where our connections have never been stronger.

     Through past collaboration between Hong Kong and the UK, undertaken by either our own departments like the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Create HK, or non-government bodies like the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society and the Hong Kong Design Centre, we have come to learn of UK's creative and cultural might in human-centred and experience-oriented innovations, as well as strategic use of designs at policy, system, product and service levels. Accounting for 8.9 per cent of the Gross Value Added and 8.8 per cent of jobs, the UK creative industries have a lot to offer when in Hong Kong. We are moving our creative industries, which currently account for about 5.1 per cent of GDP and 5.6 per cent of jobs, up the value-added chain. The scope of such collaboration may take the form of design promotion, cultural exchange, start-ups and incubation programmes, creative and smart city development and entrepreneurial-driven ventures.

     At this point, I must mention three important events in the past year that have marked our growing co-operation in creative industries. First is the world-class event brought to Hong Kong by the British Council - Sir Antony Gormley's Event Horizon Hong Kong. This public art installation, which has been on the show from November last year with 31 life-size identical sculptures perching on rooftops and standing on the ground in our central business district (CBD), is definitely one ground-breaking event in our city. I take pride in Hong Kong being the first city in the Asia Pacific to display this project, and was glad that the Hong Kong SAR Government had made exceptional efforts in facilitating the implementation of this project in the busy CBD in Hong Kong.

     Second is the exhibition of Heatherwick Studio at the PMQ in September last year. The exhibition aimed at providing fascinating insight into Thomas Heatherwick's exploration of new ideas, materials, techniques and process, such that Hong Kong people's appreciation of this talented designer's work is no longer confined to the renovation at Pacific Place.

     Third, starting from January this year, the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design is offering a Master of Arts in Arts and Cultural Enterprise, which is the first-of-its-kind master programme offered in both London and Hong Kong by Central Saint Martins, in conjunction with The University of Hong Kong. I have every confidence that the internationally renowned Central Saint Martins College will instil creative energy in our local students and equip them with the necessary skills to become cultural producers.

     I would like to end by paying tribute to the Consul-General for her commitment and passion in furthering ties between Hong Kong and the UK on all fronts over the past three and a half years. I have always known Caroline for her linguistic skills, including an excellent command of Putonghua. I have the privilege of watching her perform the Yangqin at a dinner of the Hong Kong Federation of Women last month and I could not help admiring her musical talents. Judging from her greatly improved fluency in Cantonese, as compared with three years ago, I wish to conclude that like many Consul-Generals who have served Hong Kong well, she has fallen in love with our city.

     Please now join me in a toast ˇV to the People of the United Kingdom.

Ends/Thursday, April 21, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:16


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