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2017 Policy Address by Chief Executive (3)
III.  Belt and Road Initiative

42. The Government continues to fully support the Belt and Road Initiative.  Leveraging "one country, two systems" and other advantages, we strive to give full play to Hong Kong's role as a "super-connector" and act in concert with the strategy of our country and Mainland enterprises to go global, thereby creating opportunities for our young people and boosting our social and economic development in the coming decades.

43. Last year, I appointed the Commissioner for Belt and Road to take charge of the Belt and Road Office, to provide recommendations and advice on formulating and implementing strategies relating to the Belt and Road Initiative, and to liaise with government bureaux and departments as well as various sectors of the community to further tap new opportunities for Hong Kong under the Initiative.  The Government has reviewed the work and set up of the Belt and Road Office, and considers it necessary to beef up the office's establishment and resources including the creation of directorate posts and other permanent posts to ensure it can take forward the work under the Initiative more effectively and on a long-term basis.

44. Over the past year, I and the Principal Officials concerned, the ETOs, the TDC and Invest Hong Kong undertook active promotion.  The Government will organise with the TDC another Belt and Road Summit in September this year.  The TDC will also continue to include Belt and Road sessions in its seminars and expos.

45. In May, the Central Government will host a Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation in Beijing, the highest-level forum since the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative, to highlight its achievements.  The HKSAR Government is now preparing to take part in the forum.

46. Countries across the globe are increasing their investments in local or cross-boundary infrastructure developments.  Such projects are worth hundreds of billions of US dollars.  The HKSAR Government is discussing with the Mainland authorities how we can participate jointly in these projects.

Platform for Professional Services

47. Demand for professional services from regions along the Belt and Road is strong.  The $200 million Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme announced in last year's Policy Address was launched two months ago to support the professional sectors in their exchanges, co-operation and related publicity efforts targeting overseas markets.

48. In support of the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong can provide training programmes for the Belt and Road countries.  The MTR Academy has embarked on initial discussions with the rail operators of several countries.  The Hong Kong International Aviation Academy established by the Airport Authority (AA) signed an agreement last month with Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile (National School of Civil Aviation) of France to jointly nurture aviation professionals for Hong Kong and the region.  The HKSAR Government is also prepared to organise talks or short-term training on the operation of the HKSAR Government for visiting officials from Belt and Road countries to enhance co-operation.

Relaxing Visa Requirements to Facilitate Movement

49. To foster co-operation and exchanges between Hong Kong and countries along the Belt and Road, the Government will consider relaxing visa requirements for nationals of those countries for employment, study and visit.  We have reached a consensus with Belarus on mutual visa exemption and are planning to relax visa requirements for Cambodian nationals.

People-to-people Bonds

50. The Government will continue to promote co-operation and exchanges in education to help Hong Kong students gain a better understanding of the countries along the Belt and Road, thereby strengthening people-to-people bonds.  New initiatives include updating or fine-tuning primary and secondary school curricula and producing appropriate teaching resources, providing students with more opportunities to study foreign languages, increasing the quotas to 5 600 for students' Mainland exchange programmes along the Silk Road this year, and encouraging, through the Quality Education Fund, students to engage in exchange activities in the Mainland and countries along the Belt and Road.

51. The Government set up the Hong Kong Scholarship for "Belt and Road" Students (Indonesia) this academic year.  In the next academic year, there will be two "Belt and Road" scholarships funded by private donations for students from Malaysia and Thailand.

52. For youth exchanges, the Home Affairs Bureau and the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education launched the Funding Scheme for Exchange in Belt and Road Countries on a trial basis last year.  The scheme aims to provide support for local young people to participate in exchange activities in the Belt and Road countries.

53. On the cultural front, the Government will promote Hong Kong's broad spectrum of arts and culture by organising performances, exhibitions, seminars and forums locally and overseas, and foster people-to-people bonds between the Mainland and countries along the Belt and Road through Hong Kong.  We will also continue to strengthen our exchanges and co-operation in sports with these countries.

(To be continued)
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:32
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