Speech by CE at "One Gateway Shared Vision - Hong Kong Special Administrative Region x Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" Gala Dinner (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at "One Gateway Shared Vision - Hong Kong Special Administrative Region x Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" Gala Dinner today (July 2):

Your Excellency Minister Alswaha (Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia, Mr Abdullah Alswaha), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     It is my great privilege to welcome, on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, His Excellency Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
     I also warmly welcome the high-profile business delegation visiting Hong Kong from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
     My first visit to Riyadh five months ago yielded rewarding achievements for our two economies. It also brought me a lot of memorable moments. Thank you, Your Excellency, you are a great friend.
     One of those moments was my attendance at the LEAP 2023 technology conference. There, I met with His Excellency for the first time. We talked about the tremendous opportunities of collaboration in innovation and technology between the two places. I felt a deep sense of warmth and friendship at the meeting in Riyadh.
     And now, less than five months later, His Excellency is here with us in Hong Kong, here to continue our communication, to strengthen our friendship, and to explore the expanding opportunities between our two economies – in business, investment and much more.
     This is indeed an opportune time for us to work together on furthering co-operation. Yesterday, we celebrated the 26th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. That also marked the 26th anniversary of the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong.
     Under the auspices of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong is bestowed with the unparalleled advantage of having the strong support of national strategies, while maintaining seamless connections with the world. It enables us to continue to be one of the world's freest economies with a free flow of information and capital, buttressed by the rule of law. We champion free trade and collaboration, and are committed to promoting high-quality development. 
     From the outset, the current term of the Hong Kong SAR Government - now a year and a day running - has put a priority on revitalising our relations with Saudi Arabia - and the Middle East in general.
     That is why, in February, as I mentioned earlier, I led a high-level business delegation to Saudi Arabia. I wanted to see, first-hand, the large-scale infrastructure projects being implemented in Saudi Arabia under the Belt and Road Initiative, a key national strategy launched personally by President Xi Jinping ten years ago.
     I wanted, too, to better appreciate Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia's dynamic blueprint for the future, designed to transform the country into a global economic powerhouse, one built on diversity, sustainability, innovation and technology.
     We have certainly come a good long way in the past five months. During our stay in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong businesses and institutions signed six MOUs (memoranda of understanding) and letters of intent with Saudi organisations.
     Since then, a number of Hong Kong companies have followed up with Saudi businesses, exploring opportunities in such sectors as banking, investing and architecture.
     Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative Institute, or the FII Institute, which has been organising its very successful annual global gatherings in Riyadh, will host its first PRIORITY Asia Summit, right here in Hong Kong this December. I very much look forward to that and to its great success.
     There's more, I'm pleased to say. eWTP Arabia Capital, in concert with the newly launched Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneurs Association, is setting up an office in Hong Kong.
     More good news: Hong Kong's annual Belt and Road Summit will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative in September. This year, the Summit will feature a dedicated Middle East Forum for the very first time. That will present manifold opportunities for Belt and Road companies and investors to talk business with their Saudi and Middle Eastern counterparts.
     Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is built on innovation and technology (I&T). Hong Kong shares that vision. We released our I&T Development Blueprint six months ago. It outlines Hong Kong's commitment to new industrialisation and our rise as an international I&T centre in the years ahead.
     The Blueprint charts Hong Kong's I&T development in four broad directions. They include integrating into the overall development of our country and consolidating our role as a bridge connecting the Mainland and the world. 
     We are well on our way to doing just that. Our InnoHK Research Clusters at the Science Park, which is where we are now, target healthcare technologies, AI and robotics, and they encourage I&T cooperation on a global level.
     Hong Kong now boasts some 4 000 start-ups and over 10 unicorns. We ranked first in Asia, and second globally, among the top emerging start-up ecosystems in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023.
     We are also boosting technology collaboration between Hong Kong and our fellow cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the cluster-city development integrating Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province. The Greater Bay Area unites some 86 million consumers and a GDP of about 1.7 trillion US Dollars.
     The GBA market presents boundless opportunities for tech companies, start-ups and talent. And I welcome our friends from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to join us in building an innovative future, right here in Hong Kong.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I know you will enjoy this gala dinner with our great friends and partners from Saudi Arabia. I wish you all the best of business in the year ahead, a year that promotes growing co-operation between the economies, and the peoples, of Hong Kong and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
     Thank you very much.

Ends/Sunday, July 2, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:32