Speech at Panel on Commerce and Industry

Report on the work of the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices and the Offices of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Mainland and Taiwan in 2018-2019

Work in explaining the Hong Kong’s situation in relation to the recent social unrest

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the overseas ETOs had been explaining to government officials, foreign politicians and businessmen of the countries under their purviews the latest situation of Hong Kong in relation to the controversies arising from the Bill during the past few months. Since the kinds of concerns the communities of different countries would have with the controversies and protests arising from the Bill might vary (such as some might worry about the personal safety of their nationals travelling or studying in Hong Kong, whereas some others might focus on the conflicts between Hong Kong Police and the protestors), Mr CHAN asked whether the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau had coordinated a standardized key information updates on Hong Kong’s situation to be disseminated by all overseas ETOs and HKSARG’s Offices in the Mainland and Taiwan.

SCED responded that as the level of concerns over the controversies arising from the Bill varied among different countries, the Administration had long maintained two-way communications with the overseas ETOs through electronic means such as e-mails and video conferences to exchange daily news and updated information. The overseas ETOs adopted appropriate strategies in expanding their networks having regard to the political and economic situations of different countries under their purviews. The overseas ETOs also rendered support for the visits of the Chief Executive (“CE”) and Principal Officials of HKSARG, including providing latest information on the visiting countries and arranging meetings with local key interlocutors.

SCED also said that relevant government information including press releases, responses and clarifications, news, photos and videos were published and uploaded onto the dedicated website of the Information Services Department. The overseas ETOs and relevant organizations (e.g. HKTB and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council) would also disseminate updates via their social media channels. Moreover, the overseas ETOs adopted a target-oriented approach in explaining Hong Kong’s situation to the communities and various sectors of overseas countries by making use of their long-established local networks which included local government officials, legislators, business communities and organizations, the media and think-tanks. By maintaining close liaisons with their local networks, the overseas ETOs could respond to the respective concerns of different stakeholders. The overseas ETOs would, where necessary, invite and provide assistance for local key interlocutors to visit Hong Kong, thereby strengthening mutual cooperation and exchanges. He also added that Hong Kong had freedoms of the press and speech where people could freely express their own opinions. The Administration would, as usual, stay proactive in explaining to the relevant parties the genuine latest situation of Hong Kong, despite the fact that different overseas governments and political parties had their own stance towards Hong Kong affairs and it was possible that some of them were more readily to take opinions expressed by like-minded people or political parties.

Advice on travelling to Hong Kong

Mr CHAN Chun-ying and Mr YIU Si-wing noted that so far 40 countries had issued advice on travelling to Hong Kong which they considered would inevitably affect the willingness of tourists and business travellers to visit Hong Kong. Mr CHAN asked whether the Administration had formulated any strategies in persuading these countries to remove travel alerts once the situation of Hong Kong gradually returned to normal so that the work of the overseas ETOs on investment promotion would not be shadowed. Mr YIU suggested that the overseas ETOs should collaborate with HKTB’s worldwide offices in promoting inbound tourism once social unrest in Hong Kong had subsided.

SCED said that fostering close relation and liaison with local authorities at G2G level was part and parcel of the responsibilities of the overseas ETOs. Depending on the development of Hong Kong’s situation, the overseas ETOs would continue their work to strengthen investment promotion to overseas stakeholders, explaining to them that Hong Kong’s core values remained unchanged so as to restore their understanding of and confidence in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Development of financial technology

Mr CHAN Chun-ying welcomed the promotion in London and Frankfurt of Hong Kong’s advantages in financial technology (“fintech”) during the past year. Given that the recent social incidents in Hong Kong had brought relatively less impact on Hong Kong’s financial services industry, Mr CHAN expressed support for the London ETO to continue to focus on promoting Hong Kong’s fintech and asked whether the other overseas ETOs would also promote the same in countries under their respective purviews in the coming year.

SCED advised members that depending on the economic developments of the countries under their respective purviews, different overseas ETOs might have different target industries in its investment promotion work. The overseas ETOs in Europe would continue to actively liaise with major research and development (“R&D”) institutions, financial institutions, talents and relevant stakeholders to promote Hong Kong’s latest measures in promoting the development of fintech.