Council Meeting- Members’ Motions “Following up on President XI Jinping’s important instruction on innovation and technology on 30 June 2022”

Motion on “Following up on President XI Jinping’s important instruction on innovation and technology on 30 June 2022” (standing over from the meeting of 12 July 2023)

Deputy President, President XI Jinping gave us an instruction on innovation and technology (“I&T”) during his visit to the Hong Kong Science Park (“HKSP”) last year.  During the “two sessions” this year, President XI stressed again that (I quote) “Building self-reliance and strength in science and technology is key to building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects within the set time frame.” (end of quote)

The motion proposed by Mr SHANG Hailong today urging the Government to review relevant measures regularly in response to President XI’s expectations for local I&T development is indeed essential.  The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China states that we must regard “science and technology as our primary productive force, talent as our primary resource, and innovation as our primary driver of growth”, as quoted in Mr YIM Kong’s amendment.  It also requests that we fully implement the strategy for invigorating China through the workforce development strategy, and comprehensively improve our ability to nurture talent at home.  All this will see us producing first-class innovators and attracting the brightest minds from all over.

Just now, many colleagues have mentioned the issue of talents as a key factor in promoting I&T development.  The Chief Executive proposed measures to “compete for talents” proactively in last year’s Policy Address.  The Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint promulgated by the Government at the end of last year set out the overall direction and key strategies for Hong Kong’s I&T development over the next 5 to 10 years under four broad development directions, with enlarging the I&T talent pool being one of them.

However, Deputy President, the Government still has to constantly review and step up its efforts in competing for I&T talents.  Let me briefly raise three points.

First, we should increase Hong Kong’s attractiveness to attract I&T talents to come and stay in Hong Kong.  The Government should continue to attract more international top talents to come to Hong Kong to work and start up businesses by providing more attractive tax concessions and incentives, including accommodation arrangements.  At the same time, it should provide a favourable environment for technology talents staying in Hong Kong to develop and start up businesses, and increase the support for venture capital and resources.  For example, to attract more research talents to Hong Kong, the Government introduced the Global STEM Professorship Scheme in 2021 to help local universities recruit internationally renowned I&T scholars and their teams to participate in teaching and research in Hong Kong.  According to the Government, the scheme has so far supported more than 80 scholars whose teams will gradually arrive in Hong Kong.  The scheme has been implemented for nearly three years, so the pace of bringing in renowned research and development teams should be further accelerated.  Moreover, in order to attract I&T talents, it was announced in last year’s Policy Address that more accommodation will be built for I&T talents, including the development of a new InnoCell near HKSP and accommodation at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park.  Similar projects should be taken forward and completed at full speed so as to attract I&T talents to come to Hong Kong expeditiously for development, rather than merely citing abstract figures.

Second, we should build more research institutions and laboratories.  The Government has invested more than $200 billion in I&T development over the years.  However, in the face of international competition, it should continue to increase investment in I&T research, including establishing more research institutions and laboratories, providing more venture capital and technical support, and creating an enabling environment to attract international top scientists and research talents to conduct high-level I&T research in Hong Kong.

Third, we should strengthen local education.  In addition to introducing overseas talents, the Government should also strengthen the training of local technology talents.  The Education Bureau stated that it will actively step up the promotion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education “for all”, “for fun” and “for diversity” in primary and secondary schools.  However, I heard that the curriculum of these subjects will take time to complete.  The target is to engage at least three quarters of publicly funded schools in two academic years.  I think these projects should advance as much as possible so that more technology-related university and postgraduate programmes will be available for students to choose from.

Only if we continue to improve the measures for introducing and nurturing talents can we enhance Hong Kong’s global competitiveness in I&T and promote economic upgrading.  Moreover, in order to help the country achieve great self-reliance and strength in science and technology, we must ultimately depend on high-level I&T talents.  President XI reiterated this point in his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.  I hope this can serve as a guiding motto for the SAR Government.

I support Mr SHANG Hailong’s motion, as well as the amendments proposed by Mr YIM Kong and Dr CHOW Man-kong.  I so submit.