HK in strong position to facilitate nation’ssci-tech self-reliance

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and president of the People’s Republic of China, stated in his work report at the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the CPC on Oct 16 in Beijing that the central authorities “support Hong Kong and Macao to better integrate their own development into the overall development strategy of the country, so as to play a better role in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. His words show the central authorities’ care and trust as well as hope and expectations for the two special administrative regions.

Hong Kong enjoys the unique advantages of having the motherland to lean on and the strong connectivity with the rest of the world, which is why Hong Kong is irreplaceable in the nation’s modernization drive and the process of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Xi also pointed out in his work report that the central authorities will push for self-reliance in science and technology (sci-tech) to accelerate the pace of building China into a major sci-tech power in the world. Given the consensus that science and technology constitute the primary power of productivity; while talents are the primary resource and innovation the top driving force, it is imperative that we must develop new kinetic energy and new advantages through better education of sci-tech talents by all means necessary. Hong Kong boasts abundant resources for education, including five universities ranked in the top 100 of the world, 16 national key sci-tech laboratories, and many scientists who have won national prizes for sci-tech achievements. There is no doubt Hong Kong is in a leading position in some fields of scientific research of the world, and can be of great help in facilitating the nation’s self-reliance drive in the sci-tech front.

Hong Kong’s strengths can and should match the country’s needs for mutual benefits. Currently, most of the Hong Kong-based universities have established branches in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area for cooperation in nurturing, attracting and gathering talents catering to the region’s development. Some institutions of higher learning have launched cross-disciplinary or cross-domain research in cutting-edge technology research in the GBA through complementary projects with relevant departments in Hong Kong for better coordinated development. All those are a great start and should be encouraged because the mainland cannot have enough help in basic and cutting-edge research capabilities. Some of Hong Kong’s universities excel in certain sci-tech disciplines, such as medicine, chemistry, computer science and so on as front-runners in the world. These strengths allow Hong Kong to contribute more to the motherland’s efforts in breaking the “technology blockade” imposed by the US-led West, which is aimed at undermining China’s modernization drive.

Besides, Hong Kong is well-connected to the global sci-tech innovation systems in various academic fields and is in an advantageous position to serve as a bridge between the mainland and the rest of world in such exchanges. For example, Hong Kong enjoys an early start in intellectual property protection and strong regulatory infrastructure; its financial-services industry is top-notch in the world, as are its professional services in law. All these strengths can and should be applied in the mainland’s sci-tech development because Hong Kong will be richly rewarded for helping the motherland build up its world-class sci-tech innovation industry chain and forever remembered for its contribution to the great cause of revitalizing the nation through science and education.

As the world is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century, the US-led Western powers have launched yet another round of desperate blockades of advanced integrated-circuit chips as well as production equipment and technology exports to China, while the scream of “decoupling from China” is reaching an impossibly high pitch from clueless politicians in those countries. For China, the response is clear: The harder those Western powers try to “contain” China, the higher-caliber the country’s opening-up will be. President Xi has emphasized many times that “China will not close the doors of opening-up but open them even wider”. Opening-up means China must align its own rules, regulations, management and standards to the common practices around the world, through innovation apparently. Hong Kong enjoys an edge in this respect and has every reason to put it to full use.

Hong Kong is the only common-law jurisdiction in China, and its arbitration services are up to Western standards, with the official recognition of 140 countries around the world. Hong Kong is also well-known for its simple taxation system, which is no doubt a strong appeal to overseas investors. As a free trade port, Hong Kong also boasts simple and easy import and export procedures. It supports a liberal financial policy; its currency is freely traded in the international market, and it has earned Hong Kong the distinction of the “freest economy in the world” for many years.

China aims to achieve a high-caliber opening-up on the mainland, and Hong Kong stands as an example in such efforts for the mainland to reference or learn from, successes and lessons alike. To achieve better “systemic opening-up”, the mainland usually follows the path of “pilot areas first and popularize later”. The central authorities have chosen the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone as a “pilot area” for cooperation in economic, sci-tech, trade and social governance innovations. That makes the whole GBA a giant innovation space, hence the label of “one country, two systems and three tariff zones”. Speaking of system innovation, the Qianhai cooperation zone will be the first “pilot area” for any new models, which will be introduced to the GBA if successful, followed by the rest of the mainland for popularization.

Xi stressed in his work report that the nation must improve the quality and level of “external circulation” alongside the “internal circulation” of the new growth model in the next five years and beyond. In doing so, the modern financial industry is indispensable, with the internationalization of the renminbi posing the biggest challenge. Hong Kong has been the leading offshore yuan trading hub in the world for years and has what it takes to play an even bigger role in advancing the “external circulation” of the new “dual circulation” growth pattern.

The author is a current-affairs commentator.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.