Published: 14:46, July 1, 2023 | Updated: 14:47, July 1, 2023
Bridging East and West
By Xu Weiwei

Annie Wu Suk-ching, a renowned entrepreneur and founder of Belt and Road Creation Resources, shares her insights at the Thursday reception on the Hong Kong Ni Hao program and its impact. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Legendary entrepreneur Annie Wu Suk-ching goes out of her way to show Hong Kong to the world, helping foreigners and overseas enterprises find out more about the SAR, and promoting business and cultural exchanges.

A top chef from Panama visits the kitchen of a culinary academy in Hong Kong to learn about making Chinese noodles, dumplings and carving Peking roast duck. A schoolgirl from Iceland joins Hong Kong students at a scientific workshop featuring different gadgets. And, a mayor from Finland tries his hand at Chinese calligraphy, enjoys a Chinese tea-drinking ceremony and draws a comparison between the education systems of his country and the special administrative region.

These are some of the scenes in the Hong Kong Ni Hao program organized by Belt and Road Creation Resources — a company established by Annie Wu Sukching, a lifetime honorary board member of the World Trade Centers Association, and Angel Hon, founder of PR Network.

READ MORE: Flying high

“It’s a new concept, a whole new way of thinking about promoting Hong Kong to the world,” by inviting guests from abroad to experience the city’s unique, vibrant culture personally and spread the message back home, says Wu.

In her view, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers bright prospects, and Hong Kong will continue to play the role of a “superconnector” between the mainland and the world, serving as a gateway where East meets West

According to the legendary entrepreneur, visitors telling their stories of the SAR and a wider China will be more effective than the traditional methods of introducing the financial hub to the world.

The program’s thank-you reception was held on June 29 to review the projects Belt and Road Creation Resources

had presented in the past.

Even after all these years, it’s still “of critical importance to bring people from the outside world to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland to promote culture and trade exchanges, and foster opportunities in various fields,” Wu tells China Daily.

In her view, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers bright prospects, and Hong Kong will continue to play the role of a “superconnector” between the mainland and the world, serving as a gateway where East meets West.

ALSO READ: CE: Full confidence in HK, result-oriented approach

This year also marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of China’s reform and opening-up. 

Wu has selflessly dedicated herself to the cause of opening-up for more than four decades. In 1980, her late father, Dr James Tak Wu, founded the first-ever joint venture on the mainland following the start of reform and opening-up in 1978. Beijing Air Catering Co, which was registered as Sino-foreign Joint Venture 001, paved the way for more foreign-funded companies to enter the mainland.

More importantly, Wu is committed to introducing foreign trade and investment to the mainland, while supporting Chinese enterprises to go global, actively serving both the opening-up process and the Belt and Road Initiative. 

“Even today, both are of great significance in ‘bringing in’ (yin jinlai) and ‘going global’ (zou chuqu),” says Wu, who was also former chairwoman of the Executive Committee of the WTCA (Hong Kong).

ALSO READ: CE pushes GBA development with 'innovative policies'

According to Wu, in the process of China’s opening-up, “the globe gets the chance to learn about the country, its people and companies and, in the meantime, Chinese enterprises get the opportunity to know about the world,” which gives them the impetus to go overseas to serve global markets.

As one of the world’s leading international trade organizations, the WTCA is a dynamic and growing non-profit- making, non-political organization. Founded in 1970 and headquartered in New York, it brings together more than 320 individual World Trade Center organizations representing around a million businesses from about 100 countries.

The WTCA’s mission is to enhance trade, promote economic development and foster world peace through the establishment and successful operation of an extensive global network of individual World Trade Centers.

READ MORE: GBA promising prospect for overseas Chinese

With Wu’s assistance and support, WTCA (Hong Kong) was set up in 1976. “Since then, we’ve been helping them to promote the WTCA on the Chinese mainland, using Hong Kong as a base for them to reach out to do business in China,” says Wu, adding that various cities on the mainland have joined the network, and WTCA has nearly 40 city members on the mainland, and in the cities of Taipei, Taichung and Tainan.

“She can tell the Hong Kong story (to the outside world) very, very explicitly, as, basically, she has gone through everything,” says Wu, adding that the teenager carries Hong Kong in her mind

In 1980, the late WTCA president Guy Tozzoli brought the very first trade mission to visit Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing. The 30 delegates met with the late Li Qiang, then-minister of foreign trade, in Beijing.

In particular, Wu recalls a Chinese delegation led by Wu Yi, who later became vice-premier, attending the WTCA General Assembly in Minnesota, the United States, in 1990. Wu Yi addressed the assembly in English in her keynote speech, enlightening the participants about China’s economic reform as well as trade and investment opportunities.

READ MORE: Harmony epitomizes Chinese modernization

In 1995, WTC Beijing hosted the 26th WTCA General Assembly — a three-day meeting attended by more than 600 delegates from 200 cities worldwide.

Another thing that impressed Annie Wu was the Forum on World Expo 2010. The 2,000-square-meter WTCA Pavilion was established at the Shanghai World Expo, where a series of seminars, press conferences, exhibitions, performances and fashion shows were held for the public to attend, discuss and exchange ideas.

Wu has fully embraced the spirit of the Belt and Road Initiative by going all out to support it.

In recent years, along with Angel Hon, Wu has organized more events to promote Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland overseas, including those featuring foreigners’ visits to the SAR, as well as documentaries produced based upon them.

One episode of Hong Kong Ni Hao has the spotlight on chef Charlie Collins, who is renowned in Panama, where he serves as the chef at the presidential palace. A video featuring the chef tasting food at the Chinese Culinary Institute, touring the city’s landmark attractions and experiencing local education was broadcast in Panama to promote Hong Kong.

ALSO READ: China's financial market opening-up gathers steam

In another episode, Sam Leijonanmieli, the mayor of Vimpeli, Finland, visits Hong Kong to explore the culture, education and business opportunities of the city as the gateway to China. He also visits The Peak, does some shopping in Causeway Bay, rides the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour and dines on dim sum in Chinese restaurants. During his visit, the mayor also attended meetings with officials of InvestHK and the Trade Development Council.

Gudrun Ina Illugadottir, a schoolgirl from Iceland, was shown experiencing Hong Kong in an all-around way — enjoying the city’s cuisine, sightseeing, and visiting museums and a classroom.

“She can tell the Hong Kong story (to the outside world) very, very explicitly, as, basically, she has gone through everything,” says Wu, adding that the teenager carries Hong Kong in her mind.

According to Wu, the students who attended the class with Illugadottir plan to visit Iceland with their headmaster in October this year.

About the founders

Annie Wu Suk-ching

Annie Wu Suk-ching is a member of the National Committee of the 7th, 8th and 9th term of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a member of the Standing Committee of the 10th, 11th and 12th term of the National Committee of the CPPCC, and a lifetime honorary board member of the World Trade Centers Association.

She was the honorary consul of the United Republic of Tanzania to the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions from 2018-2021.

Angel Hon

Angel Hon serves as a member of the Hong Kong Federation of Women and the All-China Women’s Federation Hong Kong Delegates Association. In 1996, she co-founded the Hong Kong Women Professionals and Entrepreneurs Association together with Wu and other women leaders. 

Hon also founded PR Network, a full-service PR firm in Hong Kong in 1994. In 2008, it expanded by setting up PR Network (China), based in Shanghai. The company provides a service to numerous international luxury and lifestyle clients in Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, as well as the organization of signature events.

vivienxu@chinadailyapac.com