Editor’s Note: There is no doubt that Hong Kong’s future is intertwined with that of the nation’s. In the run-up to the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress, China Daily invites leaders from Hong Kong’s various sectors and professions to share their visions of the upcoming event and the city’s development. In this article, Qian Peiyuan, chair professor of the Department of Ocean Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Lu Yang, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the City University of Hong Kong, said Hong Kong’s better integration into the country’s development helps local scientists make a bigger contribution to the nation’s science and technology development.
1. The Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress is about to begin. How do you view the development of the country and the city for the past decade? What about your sector? Any changes that impressed you the most?
Qian Peiyuan: Over the past 10 years, China has gone through rapid economic and social growth, fuelling the rapid advancement of research and education programs in ocean science and technology, thus having substantially narrowed the gap between the Chinese mainland and developed countries. For instance, China has invested heavily in marine research facilities. These include full ocean-going going research vessels (building more world-class vessels than any other countries); manned underwater vehicles that can reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep many times (the best in the world) and have collected a lot of samples for research programs; more research stations in the Antarctic and Arctic areas; as well as platforms and systems for extracting gas hydrates from the deep sea floor. These capacity building efforts have enabled Chinese scientists to carry out cutting-edge research in oceans around the world, leading to many breakthroughs as published in top international journals. The number and quality of articles relating to ocean science and technology published in international journals have gone up drastically. China has now become an important and major player in advancing global ocean science, technology, as well as global ocean management. China’s national blue-ocean strategy set at the recent national congresses of the Communist Party of China have made all these possible.
Lu Yang: The past 10 years happen to be the 10 years since I came back to Hong Kong from the US in 2012, and I witnessed the rapid growth and development of China’s science and technology sector, in particular the high quality, high-impact original research, and feel proud that I’ve been part of this effort.
2. Poverty alleviation has been one of the key tasks of the CPC’s work in the past decade, and the Chinese mainland has eradicated absolute poverty. What can Hong Kong learn from the mainland’s poverty alleviation work when talking about the widening wealth gap?
The efforts of the mainland authorities in eradicating absolute poverty in the past 10 years have been remarkable and impressive.
chair professor of the Department of Ocean Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Qian Peiyuan: The efforts of the mainland authorities in eradicating absolute poverty in the past 10 years have been remarkable and impressive. Hong Kong itself has wasted too much time in political debates and social disturbances in recent years. Due to various problems and the lack of long-term strategies in addressing the basic needs of most Hong Kong people, the progress the city has made in solving people’s livelihood issues has been less impressive. In housing, for instance, it’s observed over the past three decades, homes built for the general public on the mainland have been bigger and of higher quality, while those in the SAR have become smaller and smaller. Personally, I feel there have been fundamental differences between the HKSAR government and the mainland government in the past 25 years. In Hong Kong, the government’s intention and mission is to try to strike a reasonable balance between upholding market freedom and protecting the interests of every sector of the community whereas, the mainland government has tried to protect a large majority of the general public while promoting economic development.
3. President Xi Jinping’s report at the 19th CPC National Congress pointed out that the country has entered a new era of development and the Party is striving to build a moderately prosperous society. What role do you think Hong Kong, especially your sector, could play in the country’s development in the new era?
Qian Peiyuan: Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997. Many of its people have been thinking about what the Chinese mainland can do for Hong Kong but hardly ask themselves what they can contribute to the country as a whole. The SAR government can certainly do more in guiding the community in terms of Hong Kong’s roles in the nation’s development programs. For marine science and technology development, China is fully gearing itself up to be a maritime power (in every aspect) as China’s dream will not really materialize if we are not strong in the maritime sector. The central government and President Xi have emphasized the urgent need for developing ocean science, engineering, the maritime industry and blue economy, and every coastal city on the mainland has responded seriously. However, the HKSAR has yet to recognize the importance of marine science and technology in national development strategies and has never mentioned the city’s blueprint in this field. Hong Kong society, as a whole, has not fully realized the importance of oceans in the sustainability of human kind.
4. What do you think a closer integration with the Chinese mainland for the past 10 years has brought to your industry? How do you perceive it will go looking forward?
Qian Peiyuan: As a part of China, the HKSAR has not done its job in terms of integration with the Chinese mainland in the last 25 years. There has been an unbalance between “one country” and “two systems”. The central government has given Hong Kong sufficient freedom in developing the city’s economy. But, unfortunately, the general public has not been able to benefit too much from the prosperity of either the mainland or Hong Kong’s. This has created substantial misunderstanding of Hong Kong being left out in realizing the “Chinese dream”. However, with the recent developments in the past two years, the SAR can now reposition itself and restart the process of “returning” to the nation. If the SAR government and society can focus on economic development, with the mainland’s strong support, everyone in Hong Kong will certainly have a bright future.
Lu Yang: I personally benefit from the closer integration with the Chinese mainland as I have established a nano-manufacturing laboratory in the City University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Research Institute, since 2018, with the support from the university and Shenzhen government, where we applied our knowledge or fundamental research outcomes to more applied research and potential products that can be potentially useful for Shenzhen and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area's advanced manufacturing such as 3D printing and next-generation semiconductors. And I believe that, after the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a closer integration of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, such as the cooperation in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. With that, I anticipate Hong Kong can and will make a more-substantial contribution to the nation’s science and technology development with its unique strengths and role to connect the East to the West.
5. What are your expectations for Hong Kong’s participation and contribution to the nation’s development in the coming decade?
Qian Peiyuan: I would like to see Hong Kong society, as a whole, embrace the opportunities offered by the mainland’s overall development, and proactively take part in realizing the “Chinese dream”.
HONG KONG NEWS