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Proposed: ‘Guangzhou-Hong Kong Knowledge Corridor’ Print
Published on  中國日報香港版 , 6 July 2012

In his election platform, Leung Chun-ying proposes: “Seeking changes on a steady foundation”. A statement such as this largely reflects the wish for change and for development from industries and from the wider community of Hong Kong.

In point three of the economic development section, Leung states that Hong Kong has an excellent tradition of the rule of law, intellectual property rights protection and freedom of information. In addition, he proposes making good use of the opportunities brought by rapid national development to eliminate the gap caused by the differences between “Two Systems”. Among many other things, Leung chooses to highlight “the rule of law” and “freedom of information” as the basic foundation of Hong Kong’s economic development policy.

I agree that the phenomenon of the rapid expansion of data centers in Hong Kong did not happen in a vacuum. Google, NTT-docomo and China Telecom came to Hong Kong exactly for the reasons pointed out by Leung. Leung’s statements pointed out exactly the right things in the context of global political and economic competition faced by Hong Kong. Freedom of information, freedom to think and freedom to express those opinions must be jealously protected in Hong Kong.

We should also have a clear positioning and play a more active role in assisting the national 12th Five-Year Plan in the innovation and technology area. Hong Kong has significant “soft power” and has the ability to mediate trade relations between the Chinese mainland and Western countries, particularly in intellectual property rights disputes. However, to be successful, this economic development capacity must be built upon “the rule of law tradition” and the “One Country, Two Systems” advantages pointed out by Leung. 

One can use many names in developing this unique Hong Kong advantage and Hong Kong’s role in the 12th Five-Year Plan. The incoming Technology and Communications Bureau’s tasks would probably include cooperation with the mainland (particularly Guangdong province) in innovation and technology and in development of the “knowledge economy”. 

The “Guangdong-Hong Kong Knowledge Economy Cooperation” and the “Guangzhou-Hong Kong Knowledge Corridor” that I advocate are viable regional economic development proposals. The “corridor” idea can also be used as the international brand of the proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong “Silicon Valley”. The “Guangzhou-Hong Kong Knowledge Corridor” could start from Guangzhou’s development zones (i.e. Luogang district, Huangpu district, Tianhe district, and the site of the “Guangzhou Knowledge City” joint-venture with Singapore) and be extended to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Cyberport. In the next stage of development, cities on the west bank of the Pearl River (Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Macao) could also be included. 

At this moment, any single city along the “corridor” probably does not have the same fundamental development conditions and industrial experience of Silicon Valley of California. However, the combined conditions are probably more comprehensive and more matured for such a proposal. The land planning and infrastructure along the “corridor” will reach a very high level soon, which will also support this type of advanced economic development model. 

In the past, many proposals were raised in the “Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation Joint Conference” hosted by the Guangdong and HKSAR governments. These proposals mostly relate to cooperation in the financial industry, trade, legal and arbitration services, tourism, environment, healthcare, education and other customs and border control procedures. The new proposal is to enhance co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong in “knowledge economy” development and raise the “Guangzhou-Hong Kong Knowledge Corridor” proposal to the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation Joint Conference level. 

Such an initiative would support the Hong Kong and Guangdong SMEs and technology-based SME start-ups; build capacity in intellectual property and technology transfer in Guangdong and Hong Kong; help develop the Guangdong and Hong Kong cooperation framework and systems for investment in innovation and technology and would be a strong boost to promote international co-operation in Innovation and Technology between Hong Kong and the mainland. 

Such a proposal does not involve heavy fixed assets investment. If there is support from industries, the government and the Legislative Council (LegCo), and if consensus in the community can be built, the proposed “Guangzhou-Hong Kong Knowledge Corridor” scheme could become a glittering example of success in the global knowledge economy over the next 10 or 15 years.

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