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Financial Secretary


Bay to Bay Dialogue for Local Action

Last week, I travelled from Paris, France, to California, the United States (US), to attend two major conferences in the city of Berkeley. One was the Bay to Bay Dialogue between California Bay Area and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). The Dialogue focused on green development, business and investment co-operation, as well as cultural exchanges between the two bay areas. The other was the US-China High-level Event on Subnational Climate Action, which centred on addressing climate change and promoting green transformation and development. The conferences brought together some 200 delegates from government departments, businesses, academic institutions, and think tanks from over 20 provinces, states, and cities across China and the US.

Last week, I led the Hong Kong SAR Government delegation to attend the Bay to Bay Dialogue between California Bay Area and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, held in the city of Berkeley, California. I was delivering a speech at the High-level Remarks and Announcement session.
Attending and speaking at the US-China High-level Event on Subnational Climate Action.

The San Francisco Vision provided a significant backdrop for the successful organisation of the two events. Last November, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden of the US met in San Francisco, and they reached multiple consensuses in such areas as political and diplomatic relations, cultural exchanges, and global governance. Together, they laid out a forward-looking San Francisco Vision, which outlined the direction for the development of bilateral relations and established a pragmatic foundation for the Bay to Bay dialogue and ongoing initiatives to respond to climate change.

The Chinese participants in the conference consisted of over 100 members. They comprised delegations led respectively by Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Wang Weizhong; Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Mr Zhao Chenxin; President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Mr Yang Wanming; as well as delegations from Hong Kong and Macao led by myself and Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government, Ms Ao Ieong U, respectively. The US representatives included the Governor of California, Mr Gavin Newsom; Chairman of the California-China Climate Institute and former Governor of California, Mr Jerry Brown; the US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate, Mr Rick Duke; and representatives from other state governments.

Meeting with Governor of California, Mr Gavin Newsom, who was also attending the Bay to Bay Dialogue.
Attending a business luncheon jointly organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco and the Bay Area Council, a business organisation in San Francisco, during my visit.

Inside and outside the conferences, participants from both countries consistently highlighted the ample room for co-operation between the GBA and the San Francisco Bay Area. They also noted significant opportunities for further collaboration at the local level to address climate change and promote green transformation. Overall, I have a few observations.

First, adjustments and changes across the entire community and business activities are necessary to effectively address climate change, accelerate green transformation, and promote sustainable development. Long-term, multi-level co-operation across industries and geographies is essential. For example, green transformation in such sectors as aviation, shipping, transportation and construction, as well as in trade and manufacturing activities across different industries and businesses, requires funding, technology and talent support. It also necessitates the participation of stakeholders from cultural and academic fields. Together, these will raise awareness and understanding of related issues, while contributing resources and capacity to implement ideas. Given the complexity of the transformation and the need for different sectors to seek innovative solutions, cross-regional exchanges and cross-industry discussions can inspire new opportunities for co-operation and development.

The Hong Kong Team I led this time comprised over 20 members from various sectors. In addition to government representatives from the Environment and Ecology Bureau, Transport and Logistics Bureau, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the GBA Development Office, and Invest Hong Kong, the delegation included representatives from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), Cyberport, as well as the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. We shared our experiences in addressing climate change and promoting green transformation (including green technological innovation and green finance), while gaining insights into further co-operation possibilities from participant exchanges.

During the business luncheon, I witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Invest Hong Kong and the Bay Area Council to foster exchange between Hong Kong and the San Francisco Bay Area in terms of investment promotion.

Second, representatives from both China and the US shared the view that while the two bay areas have similarities, they also have distinct advantages in respect of talent, technology and capital. Besides attending the conferences, I met and exchanged ideas with entrepreneurs from innovation and technology start-ups. Whether they were from Hong Kong, selected and supported by the HKSTP for a six-month exchange in Silicon Valley; or technology companies based in in the area, they all recognised the vast opportunities in both bay areas, and showed a strong interest in reaching to new potential customers and exploring co-operation opportunities in each other’s markets.

The engagement between the two bay areas is no coincidence; it is driven by mutual attraction to each other’s distinctive features and advantages. Both sides realise that through candid communication and collaboration on innovation, we can create greater value, and rise to more challenges in the future.

Visiting TPG, an alternative asset management company, and meeting with its Founder and Executive Chairman, Mr Jim Coulter (second left), during my visit.
Visiting Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley start-up accelerator, and meeting with one of its founders, Mr Rahim Amidi (first right), during my visit.

Third, sharing experiences on green development inspired new perspectives and ideas for both bay areas. For example, Hong Kong has been a leader in issuing green and sustainable bonds in Asia, contributing to green transformation in the region. Meanwhile, California has been promoting carbon market trading and accelerating carbon reduction in relevant industries through implementing relevant policy frameworks and initiatives. The California experience is something we can learn from.

Our country has been expediting the adoption of new energy vehicles in recent years. This has prompted California to consider how they could accelerate its development in this area. Last year, over 7.4 million new energy vehicles were registered in China, accounting for more than 30% of its new vehicles. The relevant figure in California was 25%. California also appreciates Hong Kong’s urban planning model, which emphasises mass transit as the backbone of transportation system, which would reduce carbon emissions from private cars.

Exchanging views with five HKSTP-based start-ups supported by the HKSTP to receive training in Silicon Valley.
Visiting a technology company engaging in plastic recycling in San Francisco.

Discussions on pragmatic matters help kick start good cooperation. Taking the opportunity, we signed letters of intent and a memorandum of understanding with our partners in the San Francisco Bay Area on carbon market development and sustainable finance, promotion of mutual investment and green development, as well as facilitating youth exchanges and talent training, thereby paving the way for deeper and closer co-operation.

The Bay to Bay Dialogue and the US-China High-level Event on Subnational Climate Action represented local efforts and contributions to realise the San Francisco Vision reached between the leaders of the two countries. Hong Kong, as a constituent city of the GBA, is proud to participate in the events, and contribute to fostering greater co-operation between the two areas.

June 2, 2024

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