Chinese entrepreneurs have great influence in global economic development and play an important role in promoting regional cooperation and deepening interaction between Mainland and international markets. Amid the development opportunities arising from cooperation frameworks such as the “Belt and Road Initiative” (B&R) and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (Bay Area), the huge network built by the Hong Kong industrial and business community and Chinese entrepreneurs at home and abroad will lay a more solid foundation to further deepen regional cooperation.
Gu Shengzu: Constructing a new quadruple-city setup to facilitate innovation development
Commenting on the key national development plan, Gu Shengzu, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Executive Vice Chairman of China National Democratic Construction Association, pointed out the essence of three bay areas around the world: New York is financial; San Francisco is technological, while Tokyo is characterized by manufacturing. Unlike these three bay areas, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area comes with Hong Kong, an international financial hub, as well as Shenzhen, the “Silicon Valley of China”. As such, it is an integrated bay area that enjoys all the features of fintech and manufacturing. He reckoned that effective integration of the creative resources of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other cities is critical for actualizing more synergized innovation and focused development in the region. These, in turn, will facilitate the Bay Area in becoming a first-class innovative economy bay area in the world.
According to Gu, construction of the Bay Area must ride on the basis of one country and leverage the convenience of two systems. This would help shape the most dynamic international technology innovation hub with the most concentrated innovation resources, the most effective conversion of innovation outcomes, the most flexible innovation systems and the most comprehensive innovation ecology. He suggested building an international innovation corridor for Guangdong, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau, which could serve as the innovation platform for generating various outcome conversion. The new quadruple setup for innovation development will promote development of innovative initiatives, bring industries together, connect spaces and functionally complement every party. He also pointed out that that ecological development of the new economy should be promoted; Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau could collaborate as upstream and downstream partners in the discipline of innovation; a complete innovation industrial chain could be established; and a good entrepreneurial innovation ecology could be created to materialize the goal of “blooming in Hong Kong and Macau, bearing fruits in the Mainland”.
The deepened integration of finance and technology is especially critical in the development of the Bay Area. Gu stressed that it is imperative to propel interconnectivity of the financial market, to drive reform in the Hong Kong and Shenzhen capital markets, and to deepen the function of the bay area as a financial system to support the development of the new economy. He hoped to speed up the pace at which talents could roam freely in the bay area, so that convenient movements for talents, goods, and capital in the Bay Area can be materialized. He encouraged young people in Hong Kong and Macau to get involved with the construction of the Bay Area. He believed that various convenience initiatives should be rolled out to attract talents.
Carrie Lam: The Greater Bay Area lends strong support to the “Belt and Road”
As the country’s grand development strategy, the “Belt and Road initiative” (B&R) has rolled out a number of important projects since its launch five years ago. According to Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Hong Kong as an important node along the B&R could put its triple strengths from “one country, two systems” to work and become an international hub for the initiative; it could also function as a platform for financing and professional services.
Lam pointed out that Hong Kong is not only a “going-out” platform for Mainland companies, but also the preferred portal for foreign companies, including those operated by overseas Chinese merchants, to tap into the Mainland market. Furthermore, professional talents from multiple disciplines, including financing, legal, accounting, planning, engineering, project management, can all be found in Hong Kong, making the HKSAR well positioned to be an integrated professional service platform for overseas Chinese merchants along the B&R. To prevent Hong Kong from lagging behind in economic development, the HKSAR government is actively assisting Hong Kong merchants in expanding the B&R and overseas market. It is now seeking to enter into free trade agreements with more trade partners, as well as tax agreements that help prevent triple taxation.
The construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area is a major opportunity for Hong Kong. Lam stressed that one of the objectives for constructing the Bay Area is to lift the level of market opening of the Bay Area to connect externally to international market, and internally to radiate and facilitate development around the Pearl River Delta and Pan-PRD area, lending strong support to the B&R initiative. She believed that the Bay Area would promote diversified development for financial industries. As for the social development of Hong Kong under the constraint of housing, elderly care, and land supply, the Bay Area could provide space for better ways of living that Hong Kong citizens have been longing for. She revealed that the government’s priority work will focus on making the Bay Area an international technology and innovation center, so that Hong Kong’s competitive industries could conveniently land in the Bay Area. By putting forward policies to drive innovation and breakthroughs, the interconnectivity amongst all cities of the Bay Area is fostered.
Xu Yousheng: Overseas Chinese are a bridge to propel development of the B&R and the Greater Bay Area
It is the fifth year since the birth of the B&R initiative. As described by Xu Yousheng, Deputy Director of the United Front Work Department of CPC Central Committee and Director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, the B&R initiative has transformed from a sketch of an overall outline to a refined painting with concrete, carefully laid out and implemented policies.
Xu noted that some 60 million overseas Chinese are distributed in close to 200 countries and locations around the world. Amongst them, about 40 million have settled in countries and locations along the B&R routes. With a long migration history, profound cultural knowledge, robust financial strengths and wide personal networks, etc. overseas Chinese are a strong force in driving the development of the B&R and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.
Active interfacing and wide participation by the government and the communities of countries along the B&R routes is crucial in fostering development of the B&R initiative. Xu hoped that compatriots could actively engage themselves in promoting the B&R, including the shared business opportunities, the principles of shared construction, as well as the idea of mutual collaboration for win-win outcomes. He reckoned that overseas Chinese could also work as a matchmaker to help Chinese companies “go out”. They can also be the “bride” and take part in the practical cooperation across various disciplines.
Regarding the synergized development for the B&R and the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, Xu believed that overseas Chinese must act like a bridge. Therefore, he supported Hong Kong and Macau to fuse themselves into the bigger picture of China’s development and contribute to the construction of a first-class bay area and world-class city cluster. He commended the overseas Chinese community in Hong Kong for being entrepreneurial and daring in breaking new grounds, while staying close to the fine traditions of their home country. He believed that the overseas Chinese community in Hong Kong can make significant contribution to fully implementing the B&R initiative, in the construction of the Bay Area, and in China’s new round of opening-up.
Xie Feng: Tripartite cooperation mechanism fosters complementarity
While the B&R initiative did originate from the Mainland, Xie Feng, Commissioner of Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, commented that the opportunities and outcomes within the initiative belong to the world. The B&R has now become the world’s largest and the most popular international cooperation platform. It will pave new paths for various countries in developing and achieving shared prosperity, demonstrating strong vitality and bright prospects.
Earlier in April at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping solemnly promised that “China's door will not be closed and will only be opened up even wider”. He also announced significant relaxations on market access, commitments to create an even more attractive investment environment, to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, and to actively expand import. Xie reckoned that, the new measures to expand China’s opening up, as quoted above, illustrate China’s commitment as a power nation of the new era in safeguarding the global multilateral order, and in promoting development of the world economy. All these will provide even wider markets for domestic and foreign companies from around the world, including the wide overseas Chinese merchant community.
Xie noted that there is no winner in the worldwide shadow of a trade war. Economic hegemony that moves against the course of history can only be detrimental to the common interests of the international society. Prosperity and sustainability across the board is only possible through opening-up. Xie stressed that China is willing to collaborate with the international society to protect the multilateral trade system and to drive the construction of an open world economy. He mentioned that the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the HKSAR had established a tripartite cooperation mechanism for the Mainland, Hong Kong and countries along the B&R routes in the second half of last year. By organically combining the Mainland’s edge in capital, technology and production capacity, the regional standing of Hong Kong and its strengths in international professional services, the rich resources and the need to develop in countries along the B&R routes, the strengths of various parties can be pooled together to complement each other, which could work together for the outcome of “1+1+1 is bigger than 3”.
“Belt and Road”and the Bay Area Opportunities
Bernard Chan: B&R embodies commerce and trade integration
Faced with the turbulent global economic and trade situation, Bernard Chan, Acting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, stressed that B&R is the strongest shield against the complex environment. He pointed out that the HKSAR Government is committed to being a facilitator to enable the central ministries, Mainland provinces and cities, central state-owned enterprises, state-owned enterprises and private enterprises to understand Hong Kong’s irreplaceable status and strengths, while fully optimizing the huge B&R opportunities in a progressive manner so that different professionals and stakeholders in Hong Kong enterprises can understand the opportunities brought by B&R and participate in it.
Chan said that Hong Kong has a large number of talents who are familiar with international rules in areas such as law, finance, investment, financing, accounting, project planning and project management. Many internationally renowned professional service agencies also have a presence in Hong Kong and use Hong Kong as a base to tap into the Asian market. Coupled with its sound and transparent regulatory system, mature capital markets and stable market infrastructure, Hong Kong is well-placed to become a professional service center for B&R. The key is how to effectively align the above strengths with B&R projects and business opportunities.
Encouraging young people to participate in B&R cannot be overlooked either. Chan said that the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau is working with some professional organizations, tertiary institutions and business associations to develop a scheme to improve the professional service capabilities for B&R, with the goal of training the professional service industry and young professionals to capture opportunities from the initiative. The Government will also organize delegations from the industrial and commercial sectors to visit countries along B&R. Chan said that young people of some local start-ups will also join the delegations to enable them to learn about the local situations on the ground and step up alignment accordingly.
Dhanin Chearavanont: Unite Chinese entrepreneurs to explore B&R opportunities
Dhanin Chearavanont, Senior Chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand, hopes to unite Chinese entrepreneurs to tap into opportunities. He suggested Chinese chambers of commerce and Chinese business leaders from all over the world team up in order to bring together Chinese entrepreneurs who are interested in participating in B&R development so that they can conduct in-depth discussions with each other on their respective fields or expertise, and then explore the specific business opportunities brought by B&R and the Bay Area.
Chearavanont believes that Hong Kong can play an active role and benefit in regional cooperation such as B&R. He pointed out that Hong Kong has great advantages as an international financial center backed by a huge economy of 1.4 billion people. He encourages Chinese entrepreneurs from around the world to set up their bases and financial investment headquarters in Hong Kong, which will help them invest and do business in B&R regions, the Bay Area and ASEAN.
When introducing Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), Chearavanont said that it is full of opportunities and is seen as a new impetus to drive the Thai economy. He explained that EEC connects Bangkok and accounts for more than 70% of Thailand’s total GDP. Its per capita income is not inferior to that of Bangkok. A high-speed railway will open for tender at the end of the year and could form a center with subway, light rail and highway to connect three airports and two deep-water terminals, which will help promote the development of commerce, manufacturing, services and real estate in nearby areas. And real estate and professional services are precisely the expertise of Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Therefore, there is room for co-development.
Rimsky Yuen: Build a common platform for law and dispute resolution
Rimsky Yuen, Senior Counsel pointed out that under “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong is the only Chinese-speaking place in the world that uses common law. As Hong Kong is an international and open place, it has many lawyers from overseas. Relevant legal experts, if required, are available in Hong Kong to deal with legal issues arising from other places. Hence, he believes that Hong Kong’s legal professionals can provide various legal services for enterprises investing in B&R regions. In addition, as the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre is widely recognized in the world, Hong Kong is an ideal place for arbitration of B&R-related investment disputes.
As B&R involves many countries, each with its own legal system and culture, Yuen believes that various legal risks must be explored before investing and doing business in these places. This is precisely because of the close relationship between law and economic and trade activities. Yuen stressed that for the healthy development of B&R, it must have a legal business environment, and all kinds of economic, trade and investment activities shall be regulated on this legal platform.
Currently, Western countries have greater influence and a bigger voice in the formulation of international trade rules. In contrast, China’s participation is disproportionately limited, which Yuen said is not ideal. He suggested formulating a set of rules specific to resolving B&R disputes and set up a B&R dispute resolution center. He believes that Hong Kong can play a positive role in this aspect.
Zhang Yansheng: Promote rebalancing of global economy
Zhang Yansheng, Chief Research Fellow of China Center for International Economic Exchanges, believes that Chinese entrepreneurs around the world must have a good grasp of the global situation, integrate into the overall national development and build a cross-border network to promote rebalancing of the global economy.
Zhang said that Hong Kong and the Bay Area should become an important B&R gateway for opening up, focusing on the key countries, regions and fields to jointly create a B&R project cluster and industrial chain, and form an overseas economic and trade cooperation region in B&R countries.
At present, the focus of B&R is still on infrastructure projects. As the saying goes, “we need to build the road first before we can get rich”, Zhang said that it is only with connectivity of infrastructure and facilities that there can be unimpeded trade, financial integration, and strong people-to-people ties. Innovation is also an important force driving the economy. In 2016, the research intensity of Guangdong and Shenzhen were 2.56 and 4.1 respectively, which exceeded the average level of OECD countries. Hong Kong, one the other hand, has world-class strengths in finance, high-end services and internationalization. Therefore, they should step up cooperation and set up first-class universities, direct financing centers and innovation hubs, playing a strong supportive role in B&R’s development.
Patrick Nip: Policy innovation is key to developing the Bay Area
Patrick Nip, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, believes that no review of the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area would be complete without proper coordination with the economic development of China as a whole. The official report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China states that a forthcoming new round of reform and open door policies will use the Bay Area as a means of implementing further reform and opening up to the wider world.
Nip comments that the most important focal points for the Bay Area initiative are policy breakthroughs and policy innovations. As the Bay Area encompasses “One Country, Two Systems” and three separate customs areas, a top-down design is essential to put in place the essential factors for production and achieve convenient, unimpeded links. The Central Government created the Leadership Group for the Construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area for precisely this reason. The Group works with a variety of stakeholders to jointly research policy breakthroughs and innovations under the direction of the most senior levels of the Central Government.
The development of the Bay Area includes efforts to improve the economy, deliver social progress and improve public wellbeing. Nip comments that the goal of the government’s work is to achieve breakthroughs in certain fields, so that the space and talent development provided by the Bay Area can be used to develop the Bay Area into a region with a high quality of life and unimpeded links and connections.
However, delivering these goals for the Bay Area based solely on government development would be extremely difficult. Nip notes that promoting the development of the Bay Area will require combined efforts to explore new opportunities; and for this reason, the Government of HKSAR is working closely with governments in many regions to drive policy breakthroughs and innovations, in the expectation that such collaborations will deliver further improvements to Hong Kong’s social wellbeing.
Sunny Chai: Each city of the Greater Bay Area has its advantages for innovative technology
Innovative technology has become a hot topic in Hong Kong over recent years. As Sunny Chai, Chairperson of Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HPSTP), points out, the HKSAR Government has invested over HKD50 billion to support innovative technology, with some HKD40 billion going into science and technology park-related projects.
The innovation industry is closely connected to the development of the Bay Area. As Chai notes, the Bay Area needs to open up connections with the Lok Ma Chau Loop Innovation and Technology Park to facilitate the flow of goods, business, capital and information (the “Four Flows”), in order to enable effective collaboration between scientists and researchers in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Chai believes that the development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop Innovation and Technology Park, which began last year, reflects the close level of cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the field of innovative technology. He believes that each of the “9+2”cities in the Bay Area initiative has its own unique features, and these individual strengths also extend to the field of innovative technology. Chai stresses that each of these unique roles is equally important, so there is simply no need to get bogged down in questions of which city is most important; efforts should instead be focused on how to further strengthen their respective complementary advantages.
Chai believes that the key development questions are how to go about bringing in necessary resources and how to enable the results to “go global”. There are business opportunities everywhere one looks in the Bay Area, and CGCC is working with other local chambers of commerce and Chinese business associations around the world to transform the Bay Area into a platform from which the whole world can benefit.
Yuan Jun: Creating cooperation mechanisms to eliminate the costs of multiple systems
Yuan Jun, Vice President of the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, believes that if one examines the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area from point of view of Guangdong, it is essential to start thinking about the initiative from the perspective of China working to create a new way of being open to the world. Yuan notes that the development of the Pearl River Delta region benefitted from the support of Hong Kong and Macau, and after four decades of growth, Guangdong has become the region of Mainland with the highest levels of openness and economic development, as well as the best infrastructure.
Yuan explains that Guangdong’s open development has taken the form of “one centre, one belt and one region.” In terms of the situation across the Bay Area as whole, Guangdong has become a comprehensive driver of growth, the influence of which radiates out and drives the development of the wider Pearl River Delta region. Yuan explains that Guangdong has already adopted a large number of measures to promote the Bay Area initiative and regards the Bay Area as a second “opening-up” of Guangdong following the creation of the Special Economic Zone many years ago, a development that created a high starting point from which to build a new, even more open framework.
One unique aspect of the construction of the Bay Area is the diversity that results from “One Country, Two Systems”. While these diverse systems can create additional costs, governments of the three regions involved can jointly discuss and study the best ways to eliminate the associated problems with the support of the Central Government. Yuan believes that increasing efforts to create institutional innovation could make collaboration more effective and more consistent with the pattern of development in the Greater Bay Area.
Jacky So: Macau is becoming a platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries
Jacky So, Dean of Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Macau, explains that despite its small area, Macau plays an extremely important role as a gateway to the Pearl River Delta and the Bay Area; and if Macau could be linked more closely to the Bay Area, it would be possible to create a vast market.
Given the opportunities that the B&R initiative presents for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, So is very optimistic about Macau’s future. He points out that the development of tourism in Macau differs significantly from that of Hong Kong or Singapore, and this has made the territory a top tourist destination that appeals to both men and women of all ages. Thanks to the even more convenient transport links brought about by the imminent opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, So is very positive about the prospects for tourism in Macau. So also notes that part of Macau’s historical legacy is excellent relationships with Portuguese-speaking countries and the Chinese government has designated Macau as a platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries, while the territory also enjoys low customs duties that provide opportunities for overseas Chinese businesspeople.
In terms of innovation, So explains that the University of Macau is home to two national research institutes. One is focused on the use of science and technology to standardize traditional Chinese medicine, particularly in the context of the increasingly serious problem of the ageing population in China, which also presents considerable opportunities for medicine and associated industries. The other national research institute specializes in research into computer chip technologies and has already been granted a number of patents. So also notes that the territory’s government has produced a five-year plan dedicated to developing Macau into a “smart city”, a project that provides huge investment opportunities for many industries.
Jack Chan: Working with the Government to “go global” and open up new horizons for professional service industries
Jack Chan, Representative of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, notes that as Hong Kong is an international financial centre in its own right, many of the territory’s professional qualifications in areas such as accounting and law are internationally recognized in global capital markets. Hong Kong is able to rely on strong support from the Mainland and does not suffer from barriers in terms of language and other areas. Chan points out that over the last five years, around 70% of both Mainland businesses “going global” and foreign investment headed for the Mainland went through Hong Kong, demonstrating the vital importance of Hong Kong.
Chan notes that Hong Kong has served as the gateway to China since the 1990s or even the 1980s, helping to bring foreign investment and overseas Chinese businesses into the country; and since President Xi Jinping proposed the B&R initiative, the pace at which Chinese companies are “going global” has only increased. Chan explains that professionals in Hong Kong play a vital role both in terms of “bringing resources in” and “going global”, and are able to provide a range of services that cater to diverse client needs. He stresses that while Hong Kong is part of the “big picture” in terms of China’s overall development, it must also demonstrate that it has an irreplaceable position and unique advantages. As high-end professional services are Hong Kong’s greatest strength, Chan is convinced that the industry will continue to open up new horizons in the future.
New Impetus for Innovation Economy
Lin Guangming: Smart financial services present both challenges and opportunities
Smart cities are in fact closely related to the financial sector. Lin Guangming, Chief Corporate Banking Officer of Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, said that the development of smart cities poses enormous challenges and opportunities for the financial sector, because while mobile payment makes payments more convenient, it also makes supervision more difficult. While traditional commercial banks operate under strict supervision, Internet finance has brought about enormous breakthroughs.
Lin said that the financial sector has done a lot of exploration. In several aspects, it may bring great convenience for the development of cities and residents’ mobility. First, innovation and technology (I&T) drives financial services into a fully digital era, improving customer experience and satisfaction by realizing inclusive finance and personalized services, as well benefiting customers that cannot be served by traditional models. Moreover, there will be more technologies to help global payment and clearing in the future. In this regard, the banks should greatly improve their service standards to stay on top of the rapidly changing global development landscape.
He added that financial fraud is hard to guard against, but in the future, due to the development of technology, this area will be greatly strengthened and improved, thus reducing disputes that may arise during global trade transactions and payments. As traditional banking and financial technology (fintech) are mutually complementary, the banks can leverage their existing strengths to more quickly explore new fintech applications.
Daniel Hong: Cities become smarter with mobile payment
Daniel Hong, Vice President of Financial Technology (FiT) of Tencent, said that mobile payment is another major project of FiT in addition to wealth management and securities. He recalled that Tencent witnessed the flourishing of the Mainland’s mobile payment market. So far, more than 700 million platform subscribers have used WeChat payment tools.
Hong said that mobile payment has driven the development and transformation of numerous industries, making life easier for many people in the Mainland. At the same time, businesses can use the geographic heat maps composed through mobile payments and WeChat accounts to formulate more precise marketing strategies.
Since its launch in 2017, Tencent’s Ride Code has penetrated into various public transport networks in 90 cities. Hong explained that the popularity of the ride code will likely enable the Government to learn about the public’s commute habits and thus improve its administrative planning.
Hong said that Tencent will attempt to load ID card information into mobile phones through face recognition and actual explicit verification, so in the future, users will no longer need to carry around cash, bank cards and ID cards. Instead, they only need one mobile phone wherever they go.
Ian Chung: Infrastructure must change with technology
Today, infrastructure and urban development are closely related to advanced technology. Ian Chung, PRC Leader and Senior Vice President for Asia Pacific, of AECOM, believes that it is impossible to wait for technology to develop to the required standards before using it for projects in such industries since these projects take a very long time to complete. Instead, these industries must integrate new technologies as soon as possible in order to contribute to the urban environment in a timely manner.
He said that a smart city must be one that serves “people”. This is because “people” are the only core reason and driving force for all activities and development of the city. The infrastructure engineering industry should use new advanced technologies such as digitisation and artificial intelligence to create a better living environment for people.
Chung pointed out that “smart city” refers to how a city can improve the ability to respond to a crisis. In addition, it can convey public service information to the public more efficiently and establish the uniqueness of individual cities to bring a sense of belonging for their residents. He believes that innovation is not just about new invention or cutting-edge technology. Innovative optimisation, improvement or better management of existing technologies and resources is also innovation.
Pek Lian Guan: Improvement of construction technology helps resource sustainability
Smart city development involves a wide range of issues. Pek Lian Guan, Managing Director & CEO of Tiong Seng Group, Singapore, discussed it from the perspective of sustainable architecture and construction technology. Regarding sustainable architecture, he said that green buildings are not only limited to the building itself, but also the effective use of resources in various stages such as construction, operation, renovation and demolition. It is a balance between man-made buildings and the natural environment while taking building efficiency, building practicality and comfort into consideration, so as to achieve sustainable development.
With regard to construction technology, Pek mentioned several new trends, including application of information technology, modularization of tasks, and construction automation. Construction information models provide precise, accurate and real-time information throughout the construction cycle, extending beyond other emerging construction technology. At the same time, smart technologies and information communication are closely linked to drive the digitalization, modularization and automation of construction tasks, meeting safety requirements while ensuring high quality, as well as reducing the industry’s need for labour while improving construction productivity. In addition, he believes that applying information technology to construction can help maximize the potential of resources while reducing the waste caused by ineffective information flow and non-standardized tasks, which is in line with the needs of sustainable development in today's society.
Waynffly Zhong: 5G technology provides powerful backing for smart cities
Mobile networks play a key role in the development of smart cities. Waynffly Zhong, Chief Marketing Officer of China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited, pointed out that smart cities are closely related to mobile Internet, big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G development.
He gave examples of the importance of each technology. One example is the dengue fever epidemic that hit Hong Kong recently. The connectivity of mobile networks has enabled monitoring of stagnant water and mosquitoes to prevent the disease from spreading. In addition, he said that China Mobile recently partnered with local government departments in Hong Kong to monitor trees. Concerned that some trees may pose danger as they grow abnormally, the Government installed a sensor on each tree, which used China Mobile’s IoT platform and technology.
Zhong explained that telecom networks provide the foundation for smart city development. 5G’s characteristics of low latency and wide connectivity help build the IoT, of which the narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) has the four advantages of low power consumption, wide coverage, low cost, and large capacity. It truly realizes the Internet of Everything and facilitates smart city development. For Hong Kong, smart city development has to be backed by the Mainland. Today’s society faces various challenges. Through I&T, urban management can be improved and resource consumption can be reduced to improve efficiency. Smart cities rely on new technologies to develop intelligence systems, and the adoption of 5G will help smart city development.
Shang Hailong: Creating scenarios to help implement AI technology
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the cornerstone of the smart cities of the future. As Shang Hailong, Executive Director of HKAI LAB, pointed out, AI brings about huge changes for the world, one of which is the use of facial recognition. Today’s technologies use facial recognition as a means of logging into systems. For example, some ATMs use facial recognition technology to allow users to log in to their accounts and withdraw cash. Facial recognition login technology is being used in many different industries not only to reduce costs, but also to increase efficiency. For example, the unmanned supermarket opened by Suning in Nanjing last year was operated entirely using AI and facial recognition, so that customers can shop with ease using nothing more than an app and electronic payment.
Shang believes that businesses need expanded AI scenarios that will enable their technologies and products to be deployed within the construction of smart cities. Governments could provide guidance to traditional enterprises in a variety of industries to enable them to better understand how to transform AI into products, features and functions. At the same time, governments could also provide financial assistance. An example is the Technology Voucher Programme (TVP) introduced by the Mainland government. This would involve the government providing a subsidy of half or more of the cost for businesses to upgrade their procedures, production processes and product scenarios using these advanced technologies, as a means of encouraging businesses to engage with new technologies and boost service efficiency at lower cost.
While some voices in society remain concerned that AI could replace humans, Shang believes that as things stand AI is no substitute for human beings, as its applications are limited to individual functions where its abilities exceed those of humans. In other words, the current technologies can perform part of the work in terms of certain functions, but should still not be regarded as possessing true intelligence.
Teoh Kok Lin: Overseas Chinese serving as bridge for business relationships
Teoh Kok Lin, Founder & Chief Investment Officer of Singular Asset Management Malaysia, pointed out that, although we are in an age of the digital economy, integrity is still extremely important. It is only by maintaining and strengthening an environment of honesty and integrity that we can make the most of innovation, cooperation and talent, become a driving force to create the future and foster economic innovation, and achieve more with less.
Teoh explained that, in terms of the government and the development of science and technology, Malaysia was the first country in the region to embrace the Internet and the digital economy in a farsighted and hopeful manner. More than 20 years ago, the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad led the creation of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia). This initiative was supported by Bill Gates and resulted in Malaysia at one point becoming the fastest developing IT center in the world. Although the Internet was in its infancy in 1990, Malaysia had already committed to not subjecting online opinion to review and approval, a policy that helped create an open environment that fostered innovative industries.
In terms of talent, Teoh believes that talented individuals returning from overseas provide global competitiveness and valuable experience. As they are familiar with both Malaysia and the international stage, that makes it easier for them to start businesses and collaborate with local enterprises after returning home. They can also uncover opportunities that others have not spotted, so the future will provide even greater opportunities for talent to flow back into the country. He also commented that returning talent provides a variety of perspectives that help to bring in international capital. This collaborative model is by no means limited to Malaysians, as all overseas Chinese people can create similar business relationships. For example, at the early stage of investing in Singapore, China’s DiDi Chuxing Technology (DiDi) found out about the local conditions through this shared ethnic Chinese heritage, and utilized the overseas Chinese status to gain an early advantage and rapidly establish trust and relationships.
Melvin Toh: Medical applications of AI need data from Asia
Melvin Toh, Vice President of Pharmaceutical Development of CK Life Sciences, explained that innovative technology is a vital driving force for the regional economy. AI is one of the most important and innovative platforms, while medicine one of its most important fields of application. AI can be used in the diagnosis of diseases, for example by determining whether someone is suffering from any eye disease by simply viewing their iris. Some time ago, the American FDA granted approval for a software package that uses photos to examine whether an individual has diabetes. The process enables diagnostic work to be completed using computing methods and AI, with no need for intervention from a doctor.
Some large pharmaceutical companies are also using AI technology to manage data from vast amounts of material as a means of identifying more effective drug ingredients, or selecting better targets by which to judge the effects of medicines. However, Toh also pointed out that as the existing genetic data is mainly derived from the populations of Western countries, the results are not necessarily as accurate for Asian populations. For this reason, he believes that if companies can collect data from Asian populations and then accurately analyze and process such data, there are vast market opportunities waiting to be taken.
In terms of the development of innovative technology in Hong Kong, Toh believes that allowing innovative technology startups that are not currently making a profit to list themselves on the Hong Kong market will create huge opportunities, as one such company has already raised USD400 million recently. At the same time, Hong Kong has strong protection for intellectual property rights, while a successful application in Hong Kong can provide global protection, further helping to attract innovative technology businesses from overseas to settle in Hong Kong.
Cheung Chun-yin: Making flexible use of blockchains to make audits more efficient
Cheung Chun-yin, Risk Assurance Partner of PwC China, believes that the definition of innovation is going from nothing to something, while the goals are to solve society’s problems and create value. In the digital age, innovation is generally delivered by means of science and technology, and the key elements of innovation are what Cheung collectively calls “ABCD”: A is for artificial intelligence, B stands for blockchains, C refers to cloud computing, and D means big data. These four elements are all key technologies that drive today’s economy.
Blockchains are the emerging technology that is most closely linked with the accounting industry. Cheung explained that audits of large companies traditionally often require the services of over a thousand people and involve a vast amount of documents. He noted that if documents are stored in blockchains, the technology’s inherent ability to share data in collaborative formats that are also encrypted makes tampering extremely difficult. He explained that traditional methods require large numbers of people to request confirmation letters from other organizations to confirm the veracity of documentation. Looking at the experience of the industry in Taiwan, the local government stores all correspondence in blockchains, so that all auditors and companies can review information through unified blockchains, saving a great deal of time and eliminating fiddly processes.
While some people are of the opinion that the emergence of AI, blockchains and other innovative technologies may speed up the obsolescence of existing jobs, Cheung said that while the emergence of AI may well cause existing job types to disappear, it will also produce new types of job, so it will not cause a loss of job opportunities for young people. The example he gave was that specialist organizations will take on the role of verifying the results of the AI work, thereby creating new work opportunities.