Belt & Road Summit attracts leaders


Chief Executive John Lee

This eighth edition of the Belt & Road Summit promises to be particularly special. An anniversary year is always memorable. This year, we welcome the 10th anniversary of the Belt & Road Initiative.


The Initiative is an inspired strategy designed to bring countries, economies, businesses and peoples together. The theme of this two-day high-profile event – “Prospering on a Decade of Collaboration” – makes that abundantly clear.


I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Honourable Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, who will address this event with a video shortly. Indeed, the central government has all along provided its solid support to this summit.


Hong Kong plays the role of participant, contributor and beneficiary in the Belt & Road Initiative. He expressed his fourfold expectations for Hong Kong. Hong Kong remains steadfast in promoting the advancement of this wide-ranging blueprint and contributing to our country’s efforts in global governance.


This year’s summit is, I am pleased to note, the first in-person, face-to-face edition since we moved on from COVID-19. We are opened up, once again, to doing what we do best: creating a world of opportunity.


I am delighted to see how well the world has responded. The summit has attracted nearly 6,000 government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs and startups from some 70 countries and regions along the Belt & Road. More than 100 overseas and Mainland delegations are here for the summit.


The number of foreign ministers attending, and the number of MOUs (memorandum of understanding) being exchanged and signed at this year’s global meeting, are all larger than that of any previous Belt & Road Summit.


These record-breaking numbers are clear and compelling confirmation that Hong Kong has returned to the world’s centre stage.


Back in 2013, President Xi Jinping launched the “Silk Road Economic Belt” during a visit to Kazakhstan. In Indonesia, later that year, he added the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”.


President Xi’s vision, then as now, was to see the extraordinary promise in pursuing common development and prosperity for all.


Today, more than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed co-operation agreements with China in collective pursuit of this Belt & Road all-embracing initiative.


That, ladies and gentlemen, has set in motion more than 3,000 co-operation projects – nearly US$1 trillion in investment towards a multiplicity of national landmarks, bilateral developments and livelihood initiatives. Collectively, they account for about 40% of the global GDP (gross domestic product) and 45% of the world’s merchandise trade.


Hong Kong is determined to embrace the vast promise of the Belt & Road. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is redoubling efforts to serve as the Belt & Road’s functional platform.


Under the unique “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong is bestowed with the strong support of our country and long-standing global connections.


Hong Kong is an important conduit between Mainland China and the world. We are expanding our co-operation with Belt & Road partners in a wide range of areas. From trade and investment, innovation and technology (I&T), to infrastructure development and many more.


For the common good. For the common prosperity of our people. And peoples everywhere.


Hong Kong is your ideal Belt & Road centre. The opportunities begin here, on the doorstep of Mainland China. In particular, the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The bay area is a cluster-city development that counts the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and nine other cities in southern China. The GBA boasts an affluent, consumer-led population of more than 86 million. The combined GDP of the bay area’s 11 cities has surpassed US$1.9 trillion last year. That is equivalent to the 10th largest economy in the world.


More than 260 delegates representing over 35 state-owned enterprises from Mainland China have joined this year’s summit. They will take part in project investment and business sessions throughout today and tomorrow.


I urge you to make full use of the opportunity to understand from them the enormous development potential of our country.


I also encourage you to capitalise on Hong Kong’s world-class financing, as well as our professional services support, crucial for business and project development.


Here, you can find the partners you need. Risk management, legal and dispute resolution services, architectural and infrastructure management, I&T offerings and much more. Wherever in the world your Belt & Road projects are planned and realised.


That includes the Middle East and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) – two regions to which I led high-level business delegations to visit earlier this year. The visits illustrate our deepening collaboration with Belt & Road partners. And it is good to see that many of the friends we made on the two trips are here with us today.


More than building partnerships and friendships, Hong Kong delegates entered into some 50 MOUs and letters of intent during the visits. That underlines the unlimited potential of the regions and their countries, and our mutually strong desire for growth and prosperity.


Those MOUs cover a wide range of areas, from managing a dry port and logistics zone in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the establishment of an international office of the Dubai Chambers here in Hong Kong.


Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative Institute will host its first PRIORITY Asia Summit, right here in Hong Kong in December. If you have a keen interest in I&T, in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Vision 2030 blueprint, you will want to add that summit to your calendar.


And, of course, you are off to a great start here when it comes to exploring opportunities with Middle East partners.


Later this morning, Christopher Hui, our Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury, will chair a policy dialogue, “Tapping into the Potential of the Middle East”. The high-powered panel will include honourable ministers and senior officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Our first Middle East Forum gets going tomorrow morning, with business intelligence and insight from senior Middle East government officials and corporate leaders.


And there’s more, including a special “Finance Chapter”, spotlighting Hong Kong as a capital-raising hub for the Middle East, ASEAN and beyond.


Hong Kong is, let me add, strengthening financial ties with Dubai, exchanging an MOU on financial co-operation at this summit.


As for ASEAN, during my visit to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in July, the leaders of each country reaffirmed their support for Hong Kong’s accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


RCEP, the world’s largest free trade agreement, covers a market of some 2.2 billion people. That is almost a third of the world’s population that accounts for nearly 28% of global trade.


Premier Li Qiang, speaking at the ASEAN Plus Three Summit last week, reaffirmed the central government’s strong support to Hong Kong’s bid to join the RCEP. We are committed to bringing important value to the RCEP by fostering regional co-operation with member economies.


The Belt & Road is also an important catalyst for green development. The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to a green future. We are focused on green financing, including the issuing of green bonds, as well as building environmental, social and governance awareness.


Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, late last year, launched “Core Climate”. The international carbon marketplace connects capital with climate-related products and opportunities in Hong Kong, the Mainland, the rest of Asia and beyond.


Hong Kong and the Mainland, I am delighted to add, are exchanging two environmental MOUs at the summit: one on water-quality management, the other on environmental and meteorological monitoring.


Hong Kong will also exchange today an environmental protection MOU with Sri Lanka.


Looking ahead, I will be promoting Hong Kong to more Belt & Road countries and regions, from Central Asia to Eastern Europe and Africa – and to other economies that are keen to connect with Hong Kong and our country.


Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong is a Belt & Road super highway. We connect and add value to businesses and all the projects that come along.


We also promote the exchange of cultures and peoples through a variety of projects and initiatives, including the Belt & Road Scholarship. To date, more than 430 outstanding young people from over 30 countries have benefitted from this fund, pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Hong Kong.


Over the next two days, some 150 young people from Hong Kong and other Belt & Road economies will join the summit’s youth chapter. They will be our youth ambassadors. A big boost to our people-to-people exchange in the younger generation.


Chief Executive John Lee gave these remarks at the eighth Belt & Road Summit on September 13.


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