Published: 11:03, April 14, 2023 | Updated: 11:05, April 14, 2023
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CE upbeat as HK gears up for digital economy
By Zhang Tianyuan in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Digital Economy Summit at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is gearing up to embrace the digital economy with the support of national strategies and billions of dollars in funding, officials and technology pundits said on Thursday. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said during the opening ceremony of the Digital Economy Summit that “We are now to start a new chapter of the digital economy.”

The two-day event, themed “Emerging with resilience: Fostering a smarter future”, aims to bring together entrepreneurs, policymakers, and academics worldwide to share their insights on topics such as smart cities, data innovation, fintech, Web3, artificial intelligence and big data, smart mobility, as well as new industrialization.

Lee struck an optimistic tone about the city’s transition to a digital economy, citing its advantageous geographical location and support from national strategies.

“Under the unique principle of ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong enjoys the unparalleled advantage of having the strong support of national strategies while being connected with the rest of the world,” Lee said.

Lee also noted that the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area are expected to elevate the city’s status as an international innovation hub.

He said the widespread adoption of digital technologies had transformed traditional ways of conducting business during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“From e-commerce and online education to remote work and smart city innovations, … the digital economy offers a way forward for businesses and individuals, providing opportunities for growth and proceeding in the face of uncertainties,” he said.

The SAR government, in its 2023-24 Budget, allocated more than HK$700 million ($89.2 million) to accelerate the development of the digital economy, along with over HK$9 million for a series of international initiatives.

Cao Shumin, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said in his opening remarks that the digital economy has become an important engine for high-quality development with the advancement of the Greater Bay Area. 

She said Hong Kong needs to speed up construction of its data center and the intelligent transformation of traditional infrastructure, unleashing the commercial potential of data.

“Hong Kong should fully leverage the advantages of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle” to help create an internationally competitive digital industry cluster for the Greater Bay Area, she added.

Chen Dong, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said Hong Kong demonstrated its potential for developing the digital economy with the establishment of the Institute of Web 3.0 Hong Kong, the opening of the first InnoEX, and the ongoing summit.

What’s more, Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass Scheme — offering fast-track employment visas for individuals with outstanding educational backgrounds, or those drawing high salaries — received approximately 5,800 global applications in the two weeks after its launch, highlighting the city’s appeal to international talent, he said.

The annual summit was organized by the Hong Kong SAR government and Cyberport. 

Sun Dong, secretary for innovation, technology and industry; and Duncan Chiu, a lawmaker from the Information Technology functional constituency in the Legislative Council; attended the opening ceremony.