Published: 19:21, February 25, 2024 | Updated: 17:23, February 26, 2024
Pakistan envoy: Hong Kong's full of vigor, dynamism
By Xu Weiwei in Hong Kong

Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s new ambassador to China, during a recent interview with China Daily. (PHOTO BY XU WEIWEI / CHINA DAILY)

Back in Hong Kong after an absence of more than 12 years, Pakistan’s new ambassador to China says he’s very impressed by the vibrant nature, energy and dynamism of the city, which has its unique advantages as one of the top international hubs.

“I’ve had a very productive visit to Hong Kong. I’m very impressed by the positive strides Hong Kong has continued to make,” says Khalil Hashmi in a recent interview with China Daily. “I’ve seen a lot of progress all-around, positive progress.”

He says both the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions have their own strengths, such as in financial services like banking and insurance, and in technology. “It (Hong Kong) has plenty of experience in shipping and trading too.”

Hashmi says he had had a “great meeting” with Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, and learnt that culture and tourism, among other things, are on top of the city’s agenda in going forward. “Hong Kong brings a lot of expertise (to us)”.

The ambassador also met many other prominent figures in Hong Kong, including the city’s Commissioner for the Belt and Road Nicholas Ho Lik-chi, President of the Legislative Council Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, and leaders at InvestHK, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. Hashmi also called on the president and senior management officials of Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The ambassador also met with senior management officials of Hutchison Port Holdings — the largest investor from the HKSAR in Pakistan's port and shipping business. 

So far, the number of Pakistani expatriates in Hong Kong has reached 40,000, according to the Consulate General of Pakistan in the SAR. Hashmi also held “valuable” discussions with community leaders of the Pakistani diaspora, praising their spirit of solidarity and innovation, at an event organized by The Pakistan Association Hong Kong.

In a speech at the Pakistan Club, in which he underscored the role played by the Pakistani community in Hong Kong, Hashmi emphasized that Pakistani nationals and Hong Kong residents of Pakistani origin serve as a “vital bridge” in relations between Pakistan and the HKSAR. He aims to strengthen ties with Hong Kong in diverse fields, including trade and investment, education and people-to-people relations.

On behalf of the Consulate General of Pakistan in the SAR, the Pakistani community in Hong Kong and the Pakistan Club, Bilal Ahmad Butt — Consul General of Pakistan in the Hong Kong and Macao SARs — extended a warm welcome to Hashmi.

He said the ambassador’s visit to Hong Kong “isn’t just a meeting of diplomatic minds but serves as a bridge for further beefing up the ties between our communities across borders”. Hashmi’s efforts in and dedication to fostering relations between Pakistan and China have been invaluable, Butt said.

He notes that total trade between Pakistan and Hong Kong has reached $250 million (HK$1.96 billion). Pakistan exports mainly cotton, yarn, leather and food products, while the main products Hong Kong exported to Pakistan were broadcasting equipment, light rubberized knitted fabric, and semiconductor devices.

The ambassador interacted with representatives of the Pakistan GBA Chamber of Commerce. Qamar Minhas, president of the organization said the ambassador encouraged them to step up cultural exchanges between Pakistan communities and Hong Kong, as well as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which includes Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province. Hashmi praised students of Pakistani origin in the region as having great potential and prospects, while expanding their links with the Greater Bay Area.

The envoy also talked with Rizwan Ullah — newly-nominated district council member in Hong Kong — and urged other Pakistani community leaders to play a more active role in the SAR to help raise the people’s socio-economic status.

“I’ve been impressed by Hong Kong’s overall progress and its very diligent people,” says Hashmi. “So, there’s a lot of energy and passionate people in this city. All in all, I’m very happy and excited, and look forward to my next visit here”.

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