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Financial Secretary


Distance No Barrier to People with Common Aspirations

Over the past few days, I visited France primarily to participate in the Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference jointly organised by the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Our goal was to showcase to the French and European business communities the collaborative advantages of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), attract the establishment of investments and businesses in the GBA, and highlight Hong Kong’s unique role in the GBA. I also took the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with friends from the French commercial, financial, innovation and art sectors to forger closer ties and cooperation.

Attending and speaking at the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France.
Exchanging views with guests from the French commercial and industrial sectors before the Conference together with the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Wang Weizhong (first right) and the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Ms Elsie Ao Ieong (second left).

During the Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference and at other meetings, I reiterated to French political, business and financial leaders the unique advantages enjoyed by Hong Kong: under the principle of "one country, two systems", the common law system and the rule of law are maintained; free flow of capital, goods, talent and information is ensured; the simple, low tax regime and linked exchange rate system function well; business operations remain efficient; and we continue to align with the best international standards. Some attendees expressed that it is very important for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to go out and actively engage different sectors. Through face-to-face and in-depth exchanges, not only could they gain a more comprehensive understanding of Hong Kong, but also learn about Hong Kong’s new developments at the new stage. They were the best opportunity to clarify misconceptions.

Attending a brunch meeting at Paris, France to brief leaders of French financial institutions and business communities about Hong Kong’s latest situation

In fact, both new and old friends from France whom I met during this visit showed great interest in Hong Kong’s latest developments and the opportunities in the GBA. They agreed that despite the complex geopolitical landscape, Hong Kong still provides abundant opportunities as long as it continues to leverage its advantages and positions itself rightly. Some French friends who had visited Hong Kong after the epidemic told me that they found the city just as vibrant, attractive, safe and efficient as before. Nothing had changed their affection for Hong Kong.

During the visit to France, I also sought to facilitate more business and cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two places. At VivaTech 2024, Europe’s annual largest technology and startup exhibition, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council set up a pavilion for the first time, with 14 promising Hong Kong startups participating. The pavilion serves as a platform for startups worldwide to exchange ideas and explore cooperation on innovative technologies, from artificial intelligence and green technology to a sustainable future. It is expected that intensive interactions, seminars and sharing sessions at the event over the few days would spark new connections, ideas, and business opportunities. While Hong Kong will scale up its participation in VivaTech next year, I also invited the organiser to consider hosting related startup exhibitions and events in Hong Kong, capitalising on our thriving innovation ecosystem, rich experience in organising exhibitions, high level of internationalisation and extensive aviation network.

Visiting VivaTech 2024 in Paris and visiting the Hong Kong Pavilion to show support for the participating Hong Kong enterprises.
Meeting with the senior management of VivaTech and inviting them to actively consider hosting related exhibitions and events in Hong Kong.

Beyond innovation and technology, there is also ample space for cooperation in culture and arts. "French May", the annual event held by France in Hong Kong, has become one of the signature cultural events in the city. During this visit, I made a special trip to the renowned Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris to meet with the theatre’s director. I watched an experimental performance combining modern dance, drama, music, and stage effects. The theatre previously performed in Hong Kong during "French May". I invited them to tour Hong Kong again and collaborate with our performing arts groups and cultural institutions. That will offer richer experiences to the audience. In fact, Hong Kong’s convenient transport links with the GBA and other Asian cities have attracted many art enthusiasts to the city to enjoy outstanding performances. We are an excellent platform for international arts groups to establish their audience base in the Mainland and elsewhere in Asia.

Visiting the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris to meet with the theatre’s Director, Rachid Ouramdane and explore ways to strengthen cultural and artistic cooperation between the two places.

By organising innovation and cultural events in collaboration with overseas entities, not only can we promote deeper exchange and connection with different places, we can also enrich the international content of local events, attract more tourists, boost the atmosphere in the city and inject greater momentum into our economy.

Tomorrow, I will head to San Francisco in California, the United States (US), leading a delegation from the HKSAR Government to attend the Bay to Bay Dialogue between the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the California Bay Area, as well as the China-US High-Level Event on Subnational Climate Action, together with delegations from Guangdong and Macao.

The common goal of these two events is to promote exchanges and cooperation between China and the US at the local level in addressing climate change. Despite the current complex geopolitical situation, combating climate change is a shared responsibility for the world. Countries need to establish a more solid foundation for cooperation and smoother communication channels to improve the chance of global success in achieving net-zero. The technology required and funding gap for green transformation are enormous. Hong Kong has been striving to become an international centre for green tech and green finance, and actively promoting its development as a green city and in green transport. Meanwhile, we are also strengthening cooperation with our GBA sister cities so that we could leverage on our respective advantages to contribute to regional and global carbon neutrality.

The "Hong Kong team" this time will include representatives from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Transport and Logistics Bureau, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, Environment and Ecology Bureau, Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Invest Hong Kong, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Science Park, Cyberport and local tertiary institutions. During the two events, we will share Hong Kong’s expertise and practical experience in addressing climate change and developing a green future, highlighting the unique contributions Hong Kong can make to climate cooperation between the two bay areas.

May 26, 2024

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