Speech by CS at Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy Graduation Ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy Graduation Ceremony today (April 26):

Mr Chan (Chairman of the Council of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Mr Chan Tze-ching), Mr Zhu (Deputy Chief Engineer and Director General of International Cooperation Department of the State Grid Corporation of China, Mr Zhu Guangchao), Mr He (Director of the Office of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs of Xi'an Jiaoting University, Mr He Changzhong), Mr Wan (Managing Director of the Hongkong Electric Company Limited, Mr Wan Chi-tin), Mr Liu (President of the State Grid of China Technology College, Mr Liu Yunhou), professors, graduates, consuls general, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join this auspicious occasion to witness the successful launch of the first-of-its-kind Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme and to congratulate the 30 graduates from 12 Belt and Road countries across Asia, Europe and Africa.

     This quadripartite flagship project led by the Silk Road International School of Engineering and jointly developed with Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), Xi'an Jiaotong University, the Hong Kong Electric Company and the State Grid Corporation of China is, indeed, a timely move to help strengthen ties between Hong Kong's professionals and their counterparts along the Belt and Road corridors.

     The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping offers what the global economy needs in the 21st century - a way forward that we can all embrace and a future built on co-operation, mutual benefits and friendship. So far, more than 270 agreements or deliverables have been entered into among the economies along the Belt and Road corridors. These agreements and projects are cross-border, with extensive coverage ranging from infrastructure, finance, trade and commerce, information technology and digital development to agriculture, poverty alleviation, healthcare, environmental protection and conservation.

     Hong Kong is destined to play an important role in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. As a highly open economy with extensive connections and international experience, we are the freest market in the world, allowing free flow of trade, capital, goods, talent and information whilst keeping close ties with our motherland. Our strengths and unique position as the gateway connecting overseas businesses with their Mainland counterparts have made Hong Kong an indispensable player in the Belt and Road Initiative.

     Last December, we signed the Arrangement between the National Development and Reform Commission and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for Advancing Hong Kong's Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative. This Arrangement is most important as it allows Hong Kong to give full play to our unique advantages under "one country, two systems" to contribute to the nation on the one hand, whilst seizing those opportunities brought by the Initiative to provide new impetus for our economic growth on the other.

     According to the Asian Development Bank, it is estimated that Asia will require an infrastructure investment of US$1.7 trillion per year until 2030. Power supply is the key to the development of any economy. Numerous energy infrastructural projects, including power plants and electricity grid developments, are being taken forward in Belt and Road economies such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, where some of the graduates today come from.

     As a dynamic international financial centre, coupled with our strong tradition of rule of law and a fiercely independent judiciary, Hong Kong is well-placed as a "one-stop" platform for raising funds and sourcing the necessary professional services for Belt and Road projects. Our deep pool of world-class multi-disciplinary talent offers a wide spectrum of professional services across different sectors, not only in the electricity industry but also in law and particularly in arbitration services, accounting, engineering, architecture, management, consulting and more.
     Indeed, Hong Kong enterprises and professionals are already participating in quite a number of big-ticket infrastructural projects in regions along the Belt and Road. Some notable examples include power plants in Thailand and Vietnam, the metro system in Saudi Arabia, airports in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, as well as a waste management system in Bangladesh.

     I should add that our professional services and expertise are of world-class standards. For instance, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation currently runs the railway in Stockholm of Sweden and Melbourne of Australia, the Cross Rail in London of the United Kingdom, as well as part of the rail services in Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. It will shortly also run the Metro in Sydney of Australia and the new light rail system in neighbouring Macao.

     People-to-people links form an integral part of this very ambitious Initiative. To this end, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is committed to promoting educational co-operation and exchanges with the Belt and Road countries. We have launched the Hong Kong Scholarship for "Belt and Road" Students to attract outstanding students from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to pursue undergraduate studies in Hong Kong. At the same time, we have also introduced a new subsidy scheme to encourage and support students in Hong Kong to participate in exchange programmes in the Belt and Road region.

     Ladies and gentlemen, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government spares no effort to work with all quarters in Hong Kong to seize the opportunities offered by the Belt and Road. In this respect, I must pay warm tribute to PolyU for being our close partner in promoting co-operation with educational institutions in Belt and Road countries.

      Apart from establishing a Belt and Road Liaison Unit to deepen liaison with their counterparts, build capacity and organise the Silk Road International Summer School, PolyU has set up the Universities Alliance of the Silk Road in collaboration with Xi'an Jiaotong University. Today, PolyU and Xi'an Jiaotong University take a further step to develop this high-level and notable Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme to strengthen Hong Kong's connection with these emerging economies.

     On this encouraging note, I look forward to the continuous support and partnership with our academic, business and professional sectors along the way. I would also like to extend again my warmest congratulations to the graduates today and hope that you will be our ambassadors to promote Hong Kong and foster our mutual links upon returning to your countries. I trust that you will be leaving Hong Kong with fond memories of this hospitable and vibrant city.

     Last but not least, I also wish the Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme continuous success in the years ahead. Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, April 26, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:14