Published: 11:28, June 14, 2024
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HK targets new tech for growth boost
By Wu Kunling and Fang Xue in Hong Kong

Chief executive commits to advancing high-tech industries for development

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu (right) waves to the media while attending the Chief Executive’s Interactive Exchange Question and Answer Session at the Legislative Council in Admiralty on June 13, 2024. (ADAM LAM / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has pledged to boost various emerging high-tech industries to fuel high-quality development, underlining the city’s significant potential in the use of hydrogen energy, life sciences, and the low-altitude economy.

During an interactive session with the city’s lawmakers, Lee said that the city will launch its first strategy on hydrogen-energy development on Monday, and plans this year to introduce its fleet of street-cleaning vehicles powered by clean energy.

READ MORE: Hong Kong to unveil plans for hydrogen economy Monday

The session centered on strategies to enhance “new quality productive forces”, a major task outlined in the central government’s work report in March. The goal relies on technological innovation to achieve a new economic growth model.

Highlighting the technological importance of the hydrogen-energy industry, Lee said the city will also promote the development of hydrogen-powered infrastructure, including garbage trucks, trams, refueling stations, and power plants.

Hydrogen energy, lauded for its relatively low storage cost and faster charging speed, is gaining traction worldwide as a priority for sustainable development.

He added that authorities will also accelerate research into safety guidelines for the use of the highly flammable gas, including its storage and maintenance. The government may also amend the Gas Safety Ordinance to enhance hydrogen safety, Lee said.

He said that Hong Kong has already made some progress in hydrogen energy applications. For example, Citybus introduced the city’s first double-decker hydrogen bus and built a hydrogen refueling station in West Kowloon.

To seek quality development, lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pei-fan suggested developing a low-altitude economy, which refers to aviation activities typically at 1,000 to 4,000 meters aboveground.

She proposes launching several test programs, including direct helicopter-flight services from Hong Kong International Airport to other Chinese mainland cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area; delivery and courier services utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and UAV-based sightseeing tourism, with High Island Reservoir as the site for a pilot program.

Lawmaker David Lam Tzit-yuen, who represents the medical sector, stressed the significance of advancing life sciences. He urged the government to attract more top global pharmaceutical and biotech companies to establish a presence in Hong Kong.

In response, Lee said the government will continue to adopt a multipronged approach to attracting world-class enterprises in this field, including funding support and assistance in locating suitable business locations.

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Lee and lawmakers agreed that developing advanced productivity requires a diverse pool of talent, especially entrepreneurs in emerging fields. With the influx of talent under the government’s multiple talent policies, Lee said the government will further help them integrate into Hong Kong, offering networking opportunities and education resources for their children.

The discussion also touched on how to promote integration of culture and tourism. Lee cited the overwhelming response to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which has attracted over 2 million visitors, as an example of the city’s cultural tourism potential.

With 480 intangible cultural heritage sites and events, such as the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, the government will double down on its efforts to weave these elements into tourism projects, creating unique local experiences for visitors.

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