Being cultural, being digital: Hong Kong pursues a new future

Promoting Chinese traditional culture is the vision and strategy set out by the central government. Hong Kong, the nation’s first special administrative region, should be on the same page as the State strategy to win hearts and souls throughout the world.

Hong Kong rests on its laurels in financial and cultural industries while Shenzhen expedites its strategic actions in “culture + finance”, a formula that is rolling out in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. In July 2022, for example, the Shenzhen municipal government issued the “Opinions on Promoting the Deep Integration and Development of Culture and Finance”. 

It is time for Hong Kong to cherish its cultural resources and forge its brand-new image of a cultural melting pot in Asia

The government is now striving to hammer out a showcase of the duet of the financial and cultural sectors. The cultural industry turned from a pillar industry in Shenzhen to a boosting force that propels the city’s holistic development. The added value of cultural and related industries has reached nearly 180 billion yuan ($25 billion), whereas the year 2020 nevertheless gleaned 177 billion yuan despite the pandemic.

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Hong Kong, an entrenched international financial center, can borrow a leaf from its sister city’s book and finance its way toward the international cultural center through funding, and also profiting from, culture-related enterprises or activities. Shenzhen promotes the duet growth mode by supporting the listing and financing of cultural enterprises and encouraging the establishment of cultural industry investment funds. There is reason to believe that a citywide policy financing guarantee fund and a loan risk compensation fund pool for small, medium-sized and micro enterprises can be supportive and effective both in the cultural and business sectors.

Fairs of cultural exchanges and big data to evaluate and digitalize the cultural market have proved their prowess both in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. A cultural creativity index measures the 100-odd stocks listed both on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Hong Kong Stock Exchange; it has been deemed in the capital market to be an informative reference for potential investors both from home and abroad.

Currently, the mature capital market in Hong Kong ensures the city an advantage in capitalizing on its growing cultural industry; in the long run, the GBA will be another hot spot for luring international capital to tap its booming cultural exchange market. Hong Kong should embrace the development and cooperation in the GBA, and forge its own path for leveraging Hong Kong’s strengths while facilitating the country’s development.

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The authorities in Beijing have mapped out an action plan to facilitate the digitalization of the consumer goods industry. Now, some of the mainland’s time-honored brands, with their success in commercializing the cultural heritage of the imperial ages, have given rise to the chic concept of “China style”. 

When it comes to Hong Kong, as long as the city takes the initiative to promote “China style” and tap the countless business opportunities and startup-funding programs in fashion, movies or animation industries, the city will see a new surge of startups and entrepreneurs to profit and prosper in transforming Hong Kong into an international cultural hub. After all, circumstance creates heroes.

Aside from promoting “China style”, Beijing has been actively fostering the development of the digitization of the cultural industry. Promoting “the High-quality Development of the Digital Culture Industry” is stipulated in the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). Nowadays, market competition has shifted from technological contests to the hybrid battle of “tech + culture”, and people start to realize that “soft power” is strong when technology is involved.

Over the years, Hong Kong has been too commercial to be nostalgic; the demolition of the outdated, from buildings to infrastructure, has been too swift to realize its cultural values. It is time for Hong Kong to cherish its cultural resources and forge its brand-new image of a cultural melting pot in Asia.

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The author is a member of the General Committee of the Hong Kong United Youth Association, and is the secretary-general of the Hongkong Young Historian Institute.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.