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Published: 22:56, February 06, 2023 | Updated: 13:20, February 07, 2023
Hong Kong ready to serve as critical gateway to BRI
By Jan Yumul in Riyadh
Published:22:56, February 06, 2023 Updated:13:20, February 07, 2023 By Jan Yumul in Riyadh

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu delivers a keynote speech at the LEAP 2023 technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb 6, 2023. (PHOTO / INFOMRATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)

In a high-spirited pitch at LEAP 2023 — one of the biggest technology conferences to be held in the Middle East and North Africa region — Hong Kong’s chief executive got down to business with his “Hello, Hong Kong” campaign in Riyadh, saying “a critical gateway to the Belt and Road Initiative was back”. 

“I'm here with a high-profile Hong Kong delegation and we look forward to talking with as many of you as possible today” at this “inspiring conference,” said John Lee Ka-chiu

He said Hong Kong has been troubled for three years by COVID-19, and reaffirmed that the SAR has now “reopened itself up to connect to the world”.

READ MORE: CE hails 'new level' of Saudi-HK ties; 6 pacts signed

He said the “flourishing future of Hong Kong” is being built on the principle of “one country, two systems”, which was first implemented when the SAR returned to the motherland in 1997. 

Capitalizing on our solid foundation and superb connectivity, Hong Kong is on the fast track to becoming an international, innovation and technology hub.

John Lee, Chief Executive, HKSAR

He also underscored that Hong Kong has plenty to offer the over 180 countries and international organizations covered by the initiative, which include Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

He said “the world's largest offshore renminbi business hub” provides capital for BRI countries, economies, companies and projects. 

“Alongside capital, we also serve as a bridge enabling the flow of talented knowledge between the mainland and the world at large. Capitalizing on our solid foundation and superb connectivity, Hong Kong is on the fast track to becoming an international, innovation and technology hub”. 

Lee also noted that Hong Kong is home to five of the top 100 universities in the world even if it is “only a city of 1,100 square kilometers”.

Startups in the SAR had also soared from 1,000 in 2014 to some 4,000 last year with 10 unicorns under its belt, according to the chief executive. He also said venture capital surged from $154 million in 2014 to $5.3 billion in 2021, and the city is a leading fundraising hub for biotechnology companies. 

He said the government recently established the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises, targeting companies and individuals in life and health technology, artificial intelligence, data science, financial technology, advanced manufacturing and new energy technology. 

ALSO READ: CE sees potential for expanding HK's cooperation with Mideast

The chief executive said his goal was to attract 100 innovation and technology enterprises or representatives to Hong Kong to expand their businesses over the next five years, raking in $1.2 billion of investment, adding that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area “is central to the I&T area”. 

Chief Executive John Lee (third right) meets with the President and the Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, Amin H Nasser (second left), in the LEAP 2023 technology conference, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb 6, 2023. Deputy Secretary for Justice, Cheung Kwok-kwan (fourth right); Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui (second right); Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Algernon Yau (fifth right); Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Nicolas Aguzin (first right) and representatives of Saudi Aramco were also present. (PHOTO / INFOMRATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)

“Hong Kong works with our motherland and global partners to harness the power of innovation and technology. Working together, I am confident we can create a sustainable, and prosperous future for us all,” said Lee, thanking the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and wishing the Arab nation the best in business, health and innovation in the promising Year of the Rabbit. 

“I look forward to seeing you all in Hong Kong and to saying hello to you in Hong Kong soon,” he added. 

Contact the writer at jan@chinadayapac.com

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