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Integrated Solutions eNewsletter
THEME STORY: Hong Kong Re-industrialization. Opportunity?

HK I.T. needs to CATCH UP!

Belt and Road Initiative: The Modern Silk Road of Innovation and Technology

In 2013, Xi Jinping, China’s paramount leader, put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Also known as the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road,” the initiative aims to promote economic, cultural and technological exchange between the member nations, thus collectively building the “modern silk road.” Within the framework of BRI, the China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor (CICPEC) is one of the key infrastructure networks that facilitates the connection between China and ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

During the 13th National People's Congress, Xi highlighted the significance of innovation and technology for construction and modernization of economic system and industries in China. With a view to establishing China as the top-notch technology hub, there is a high demand for I.T. talents, high-end equipment and up-to-date information technology. Thanks to the national policy and its focus on innovation and technology, the state-initiated project undoubtedly brings about countless opportunities for various industries and gives a boost to the numerous technology companies throughout the country. In this light, what is the role of Hong Kong in BRI? How should the technology companies in Hong Kong take advantage of the favorable state policy and grasp this great opportunity to expand their business?

Hong Kong as the “Double Gateway”

The development blueprint of BRI illuminates the important role of Hong Kong. Since 2017, the state has drawn up a plan to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), which comprises the 4 major cities—namely, Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen—and serves as the “core engine” for BRI. The Greater Bay Area is positioned as a dynamic world-class megalopolis, an international hub for innovation and technology, and the foundation for BRI.

As a “double gateway” connecting to China and the world, Hong Kong enjoys the dual advantages of “one country, two systems” with its unique economic, social and legal system while being a part of China. In the previous policy addresses, the government has constantly stressed the role of Hong Kong as “super-connector” to complement the national strategies to “go global” and “attract foreign investment.” Owing to our own strengths, including the open and free market as well as the well-established legal system, Hong Kong has not only been the international center for nance, trading, shipping and logistics, but also the largest offshore Renminbi (RMB) business center. With more transport infrastructure projects (e.g. Hong Kong- Zhuhai- Macao Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link) have been completed in recent years, Hong Kong works well as the bridge to connect China and the world for more exchanges in different areas.

The Road to the Innovation and Technology Community

In the proposal of BRI, there are “five areas of connectivity,” in which “people-to-people bond” involves the exchange of science and technology. In the 2019 policy address, the government specifically mentions the development of innovation and technology, and its relations to BRI. The initiative strengthens knowledge transfer and collaboration between scientists, researchers and science parks from different member nations. It also encourages the establishment of joint laboratories to set out research projects, and innovate new solutions and technologies in a bid to tackle the rigorous global problems such as pollution and global warming. Moreover, BRI as the modern “digital silk road” fosters the multilateral cooperation and exchange in domains like digital economy, artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology and quantum computer, so as to pave a way for the development of smart cities in the globe.

In addition, BRI oers many opportunities to the local technology enterprises and other industries in Hong Kong. Innovation and technology is the essential impetus when it comes to social progress and development in the modern world. These advanced technologies provide the vital support to BRI. The adoption and use of innovation and technology has become a trend in various industries. In other words, BRI also brings about business opportunities for these industries under the principles of complementarity and mutual benets.

For example, cross-border e-commerce has become a trend in the area of international trade and commerce in the wake of the rapid development of Internet. Internet technology provides a convenient and intelligent tool, which facilitates the multilateral economic activities such as trade and investment. This year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) with the major banks in Hong Kong has launched a blockchain-based trade finance platform called eTradeConnect. The local and foreign investors are encouraged to leverage on this virtual and innovative platform to carry out cross-border commerce and digitalized trade. The platform is not just a milestone to the new era of smart banking, but also a step further toward the long-term development plan of the Greater Bay Area and BRI.

Connecting the investors from member nations particularly the Southeast Asian countries, BRI opens up new markets for the local technology companies in Hong Kong to expand their business. Besides, the actualization of BRI renders the permeability and expansibility inherent in technology development even more evidently. In the field of technology, the multilateral collaboration with the member nations in Southeast Asia facilitates the exchange of experts, ideas and technologies between regions, therefore contributing to local technology enterprises’ innovation as well as their expansion of business.

Multilateral Innovative Cooperation under BRI: The Exemplar of New Manila Bay City of Pearl

The New Manila Bay City of Pearl is a collaborative project between China and Philippines under BRI. Initiated by the Manila municipal government and led by UAA Kinming Group Development Corporation, the project intends to develop a reclaimed land as a sustainable green smart city, where there will be modern residential properties, commercial buildings, retail shops, cultural and leisure facilities, and tourist sites. Apart from the environment-friendly transportation network, renewable energy including solar and tidal power will be utilized in the whole city. As an exemplar of smart city, an integrated AI system will also be adopted for coordination.

Through BRI, the government of Philippines hopes to attract more investors from China to collectively build the city. At the same time, the Hong Kong-based Ho & Partners Architects Engineers & Development Consultants Ltd. (hpa) is appointed as the architect for the project’s first phase of construction, clearly bespeaking the role of Hong Kong as “facilitator” in BRI. The project becomes the model of multilateral economic cooperation under BRI, which creates a wide range of opportunities and jobs to industries and enterprises from Hong Kong, China and other member nations.

Indeed, Singapore and Philippines are two core member nations within CICPEC. BRI promotes a closer collaboration and connection between enterprises from difierent member nations. It also brings invaluable opportunities to the local technology companies, as the use of technology is integral to the development and progress in various industries in today’s world. In the near future, ISL will grasp every opportunity brought by BRI and export our innovative products and services to Singapore and Manila, in the hope of becoming one of the leaders in providing professional quality I.T. solutions for SME’s in Asia Pacific, as well as a contributor to the building of “digital silk road” and “innovation and technology community.”