Published: 20:43, November 16, 2023 | Updated: 14:22, November 17, 2023
Chan shows HK's economic recovery picture to US figures
By Li Xiaoyun in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po speaks at a business luncheon held by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, United States, on Nov 15, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

In San Francisco on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, addressed local business figures, proclaiming that Hong Kong has emerged from the shadow of the pandemic and unveiling the special administrative region’s latest initiatives to drive innovation and technology, particularly in the realm of financial technology.

Chan had lunch with representatives of startups, venture capital, and private equity firms in Silicon Valley.

Chan emphasized that besides the business advantages enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong is also a safe, culturally vibrant, and tax-friendly city for career development and business expansion 

Speaking at the business luncheon, Chan said Hong Kong has now fully reopened, reconnecting the world and the Chinese mainland, despite the arduous journey that the city weathered from the second half of 2019.

READ MORE: Chan to showcase SAR's strengths at APEC meetings

In August and September alone, Hong Kong welcomed over 7 million visitors, reaching 65 to 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels. By year-end, flights between Hong Kong and destinations spanning the globe are projected to rebound to 80 percent, paving the way for a comprehensive resurgence in 2024, Chan said.

In addition to maintaining inflation and unemployment at a reassuring 2 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, Hong Kong’s asset markets, including real estate and stocks, have demonstrated their resilience in the face of volatility, operating in an organized and stable manner — a characteristic expected to endure well into the future,Chan said.

On top of providing insights into Hong Kong’s current economic landscape, the finance chief also expounded upon the future trajectory of the city’s economic development, identifying financial services as well as innovation and technology as the two main engines driving Hong Kong’s growth.

“Hong Kong's economic success in the past has rested on our ability to continue to transform ourselves,” Chan remarked.

According to Chan, Hong Kong’s pursuit of innovation and technology serves multiple purposes — diversifying market structure to better navigate through different economic cycles, while creating a wealth of high-quality employment opportunities beyond the traditional financial services.

With artificial intelligence and data analytics, life and health sciences, fintech and advanced manufacturing, and new energy and new materials as its four main focuses, Hong Kong has channeled over HK$200 billion ($25.6 billion) into innovation and technology, forging a vibrant ecosystem.

In terms of fintech, Hong Kong has seen a rapid growth in the number of fintech companies, surging from 180 in 2017 to about 1,000 at present. Hong Kong is home to eight virtual banks, four virtual insurers, and two virtual assets trading platforms. Chan noted that these figures reflect the city’s open-minded approach towards financial innovation.

Chan also underscored the necessity of addressing corresponding risks amid the rapid development of fintech. Citing the example of Hong Kong’s policy statement released last October for Web3, he said that the initiative was designed to embrace this financial innovation while concurrently implementing regulatory measures to mitigate potential hazards.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan (right) is being greeted by the Acting Chief of Protocol of the United States, Ethan Rosenzweig before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting welcome reception on Nov 15, 2023, in San Francisco, United States. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

Looking to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which encompasses 11 cities with a total population of 87 million and a per capita GDP of around $22,000, Chan highlighted the area’s youthful population and robust consumer purchasing power.

Chan emphasized that besides the business advantages enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong is also a safe, culturally vibrant, and tax-friendly city for career development and business expansion.

The financial secretary also visited an international company specializing in payment and financial technology and a biotech start-up in Silicon Valley; the latter is actively considering establishing a research and development center and regional headquarters in Hong Kong to develop business in Asia.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan (center) poses for a photo with Chairman, Asia Pacific, Visa, Chris Clark (right), and Chief Executive Officer of Visa, Ryan McInerney (left) on Nov 15, 2023, in San Francisco, United States. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

READ MORE: FS stresses HK's advantages at APEC ministers' retreat

At a plenary session of the 34th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting on the same day, Algernon Yau Ying-wah, secretary for commerce and economic development, called for APEC members to build resilience through cooperation to ensure prosperity for all people, and shared with his counterparts Hong Kong’s efforts to translate the collective goal of advancing broad-based prosperity into concrete actions.

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