Eighth Belt and Road Summit opens in celebration of 10th anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative (with photos/video)

     The eighth Belt and Road Summit, which opened today (September 13) as the first fully physical edition after the resumption of normalcy, attracted nearly 6 000 representatives from Belt and Road related countries and regions, including government officials from more than 10 countries and prominent international business leaders, over 100 delegations, as well as over 35 state-owned enterprises from the Mainland, a record high over past editions. Together, the participants reviewed the development of the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) since 2013, and looked forward to opportunities in investment, business and trade in the next era.
     Since its debut in 2016, the annual flagship event hosted by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has become a premier Belt and Road business and investment platform for Hong Kong, Mainland and overseas enterprises.
     With the theme "Prospering on a Decade of Collaboration", the Summit this year especially commemorates the 10th anniversary of the B&RI. Through the Summit, the HKSAR Government seeks to highlight Hong Kong's role as the functional platform for the B&RI, and to assist enterprises and professional services in exploring business opportunities, in particular those arising from emerging markets such as the Middle East and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets.
     Vice Premier of the State Council Mr Ding Xuexiang gave a video keynote speech at the opening session this morning. Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, and the Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Mr Zheng Yanxiong, also delivered a special address at the session.
     Speaking at the opening session, the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, highlighted that more than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed co-operation agreements with China in collective pursuit of the B&RI, setting in motion more than 3 000 co-operation projects and nearly US$1 trillion in investment. Noting that Hong Kong is determined to embrace the vast promise of the B&RI, Mr Lee said that the HKSAR Government is redoubling its efforts for Hong Kong to serve as the functional platform for the Belt and Road.
     Mr Lee added that under the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong is bestowed with the strong support of the country and long-standing global connections. As an important conduit between the Mainland and the world, Hong Kong is expanding co-operation with Belt and Road partners in such areas as trade and investment, innovation and technology, and infrastructure development for the common good and prosperity.
     Looking ahead, Mr Lee said that he will be promoting Hong Kong to more Belt and Road countries and regions such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, as well as other economies that are keen to connect with Hong Kong and the Mainland.
     Also addressing the opening session were Vice Minister of Commerce Ms Guo Tingting; Vice Chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council Mr Gou Ping; and Deputy Secretary General of the National Development and Reform Commission Mr Xiao Weiming.
     The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, gave welcome remarks at the keynote luncheon titled "Resiliency and Development on Entering a New Era of the Belt and Road Initiative". Highlighting that Hong Kong is determined to work with ASEAN and all countries and economies along the Belt and Road, he elaborated on the contributions Hong Kong can make to the B&RI, particularly in infrastructure financing, operation and risk management.
     The Secretary for Justice, Mr Paul Lam, SC, gave opening remarks at the thematic breakout session titled "International Legal Cooperation". He pointed out that with distinctive advantages including the common law system with which the international community is familiar, an independent judiciary as well as a pool of legal professionals, Hong Kong plays an unique role in assisting the establishment of a sound international legal environment in promoting the B&RI.
     The Summit featured two policy dialogue sessions. The "Belt and Road Initiative as a Catalyst for Regional Cooperation and Development" session, chaired by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, focused on market integration and connectivity among economies. The session titled "Tapping into the Potential of the Middle East", which was chaired by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, explored effective ways to tap the Middle East markets, fostering complementarity, mutual benefits and collective development.
     The business plenary session on fostering business collaboration along the Belt and Road through Hong Kong was attended by prominent business leaders. Three other thematic breakout sessions were also held today on "Mainland-Hong Kong Trade Services Symposium: Chinese Services for the Global Market", "Opportunities in Hong Kong Infrastructure to Boost High-quality Belt and Road Development", and "Professional risk management services in support of Belt and Road development".
     In addition, the HKSAR Government and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan jointly announced today that the two places are going to mutually extend the visa-free period from 14 days to 30 days, with the implementation date to be separately announced.
     At the summit, the HKSAR Government also exchanged co-operation agreements with the Mainland on water quality management and meteorological science and technology, as well as memoranda of understanding with Sri Lanka and the Emirate of Dubai respectively on environmental protection and financial services co-operation.
     The two-day Summit will continue tomorrow (September 14). Carrying on the fruitful outcomes of the Middle East and ASEAN missions led by the Chief Executive this year, the Middle East Forum to debut at the Summit tomorrow will focus on opportunities, developments and collaboration the Middle East presents under the B&RI.
     The first edition of the Finance Chapter and Youth Chapter will also be held at the Summit tomorrow. The Finance Chapter will delve into Hong Kong's superior financial services, innovative technologies and sustainable development vision, exploring how they can contribute to the B&RI and countries and regions along the Belt and Road. The Youth Chapter will invite young business leaders and start-ups to share insights and experiences on discovering and seizing opportunities under the B&RI.
     Around 150 recipients of the Belt and Road Scholarship as well as YDC Youth Ambassadors also took part in the Summit to promote people-to-people exchanges.
     In addition, five project investment sessions focusing on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, new markets, urban development, and innovation and technology will be held tomorrow.

Ends/Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Issued at HKT 19:20