Legislative Council Meeting Motion – Establishing a comprehensive ‘re-industrialization’ policy regime

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

Deputy President, in paragraph 77 of the Policy Address released in January 2016, the last-term Government proposed that Hong Kong should implement “re-industrialization” by formulating new measures to promote industrial development, and described “re-industrialization” as a potential new area of economic growth. In paragraph 72 of the Policy Address released last year, the current-term Government further stated that it “will provide funding to subsidize local enterprises … for training their staff on advanced manufacturing technologies, especially those related to Industry 4.0”. This year’s Budget has made the idea more specific through the use of public money, e.g. the Science Park will be expanded to provide additional space for the start-ups, and the Hong Kong Productivity Council (“HKPC”) will set up Inno Space to provide technical support to help start-up entrepreneurs and graduates turn their innovative ideas into products. Whether Hong Kong can secure a place in Industry 4.0, which is regarded as the fourth industrial revolution, still remains to be observed. The motion on “Establishing a comprehensive ‘re-industrialization’ policy regime” moved by Mr Jimmy NG today comes just in time, though our discussion has been delayed for months. It is believed that Mr NG’s motion seeks to genuinely implement the diversification of Hong Kong’s economy and industries, so as to further enhance our overall competitiveness and create more quality employment opportunities for young people. Hence, I absolutely support this motion.The key concept of Industry 4.0 is connectivity. With the use of information and communication technologies, the Internet of Things and Internet of Services have been developed to connect all the relevant equipment, personnel, processes and data, such that the equipment not only can communicate with one another, but is also capable of monitoring, making analysis and exercising judgment independently. Problems can thus be identified and promptly addressed at any time, thereby enhancing the flexibility of the production process to react swiftly to changing market needs. Simply put, this is the idea of smart factory. Deputy President, while the German Government put forward the concept of Industry 4.0 in 2013, China also proposed the “Made in China 2025” strategy in 2015. They are different by name, but both seek to enhance their industrial competitiveness through information technology and advanced manufacturing technology. To the industrial sector in Hong Kong, the so-called “Industry 4.0” is not new, but its operation and implementation are still in a stage of active exploration. In August last year, HKPC established the Smart Industry One, the first-of-its-kind in Hong Kong showcasing comprehensively Industry 4.0 to the public. This demonstration centre, which simulates the operation of a smart factory, including the digitalization operation solution, intelligent and agile production cell and Cyber Security Zone, enables the industry to see for themselves what Industry 4.0 is about. It is believed that the demonstration centre will be very useful to the industry. In fact, HKPC estimated that about 60% to 70% of enterprises in Hong Kong still lie between Industry 2.0 and Industry 3.0 at present, which means that mass production is possible with the extensive use of machines, but they have yet to achieve comprehensive automated production. As more and more overseas clients have adopted Industry 4.0 and incorporated it into their procurement requirements, it is important for Hong Kong manufacturers to expeditiously upgrade themselves so as to maintain their competitiveness in the international market. Therefore, Industry 4.0 is by no means a matter involving major manufacturing countries or multinational enterprises, but is also of crucial interest to small and medium enterprises in Hong Kong. Deputy President, I totally understand the concern of the industry that intelligent process does not only require money and hardware, software development is also a crucial factor. If the Government is determined to promote re-industrialization, I would expect it to assume a more proactive role in, as Mr Jimmy NG mentioned just now, amending the relevant legislation and rules to keep abreast of the times. I cannot agree more with the point raised by Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas YANG in his blog on 21 March last year. He said that after the migration of local manufacturing industry to the Mainland in late 1980s, Hong Kong had not only lost almost one million manufacturing posts, but also its edge in industrial research and development (“R&D”) and project design, consequently entering the stage of “de-industrialization”. On the contrary, countries in Europe and the United States have all along kept their strength in industrial R&D and project design within their homelands. Take Apple iPhone as an example. Although many of its hardware is manufactured in Mainland China, core processes such as design, R&D and software are still carried out in the base of the company in the United States. Therefore, if Hong Kong wants to revive industries, it should begin with gaining control over its core R&D. It is therefore heartening to see that the current-term Government has stated in the Policy Address to proactively promote innovation and technology and the Budget has set aside an additional $50 billion to support innovative development. It is heading towards the right direction. In order for Hong Kong to implement re-industrialization, the training of talent is very important. We need to integrate pre-vocational training and the intelligent management of enterprises so as to change young people’s longstanding impression about industry. The younger generation is encouraged to introduce innovative elements such as technology, with a view to embodying their creativity in the traditional industries. Hence the brand of “Made in Hong Kong” can shine again. Both the Policy Address and the Budget have responded to the request for talent training, but the details provided are far from concrete. If Hong Kong has to implement Industry 4.0, the Government and the industry will have to expeditiously figure out its positioning, the kind of high value-added manufacturing industry to be developed and how talents can be better pooled.

I so submit. Thank you, Deputy President.