由香港再出發大聯盟聯同Friday Culture Limited（蜚聲文化）舉辦的「新世代國際傳播高端論壇」已於今日（5月31日）以線上直播方式圓滿舉行，論壇邀請了海內外重量級領袖及學者，由香港再出發大聯盟總召集人梁振英等擔任主禮嘉賓，並由梁振英進行主題演講揭開序幕。
International Communication in the New Era
Keynote speech - Mission and Role of Hong Kong in the Construction of National Image
CY Leung 2020.05.31
Herman(Hu), Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen
Two days ago, the Financial Times published a full-page report under the following heading, “Wall Street’s new love affair with China”. Of course, it was not about coronavirus or Xinjiang, it was about American financial businesses breaking into the Chinese market. The story started with an announcement a few days earlier of Goldman Sachs’ “wealth partnership with the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The deal could allow Goldman to draw on the savings of hundreds of millions of the bank’s Chinese customers”. The report went on to say that China “is opening its doors wider than ever to foreign firms”. “Against this backdrop, some investors say the biggest risk is not getting into China quickly enough”, “ while firms such as Goldman have a long history in China, the recent reforms that have swept across the entire financial industry will allow them to expand much further”. “For international investment firms, China is the world’s most clear-cut opportunity”. The above are quotes from the Financial Times report. This report is about the wealth management market in China. We also hear about how hard the life insurance companies have been trying to break into the China market, especially the bridgehead market of Guangdong. Foreign life companies have just had their starters in Hong Kong. The feast is in the Mainland.
So to the international audience, the China story is not just about politics. Politics may on many occasions be a zero-sum game while business is about global expansion and win-win. The world’s businesses, from small entrepreneurs to multinationals, from CEO’s to their public shareholders, are equally interested in what China has to offer - China as a dependable supplier, a huge market, or an investor. After all, China is the most populous country, the second largest economy and the fastest growing sizeable economy in the world.
The China business story is not just about the financial sector. Five months ago I was in Lingang （臨港）which is within one of the Shanghai Free Trade Zones where Tesla has its huge China plant. The scale of Lingang is overwhelming. More to the point, I was pleased to pass by a signing ceremony between China and Japan. The two countries had just started to collaborate on hydrogen-powered vehicles.
So from wealth management to life insurance, from financial services to making cars, from electric cars to hydrogen cars, from the United States to Japan, the audience is out there, waiting to hear the China business story. Everyone knows the huge size of China, everyone knows the speed of changes, everyone wants to know their prospects in China. Everyone knows that only the surface has been scratched. Everyone wants to act fast and have the first-mover advantage. And everyone wants to hear not the Why’s, but the What’s, the Where’s, the Who’s and more importantly the How’s.
Two months ago, the Hong Kong Coalition co-organised a webinar on Hong Kong’s prospects under the National 14th Five-year Plan. The theme of the webinar might well be “The World’s Prospects under China’s National Five-year Plan”. It attracted an audience of over one million worldwide, 40,000 of whom were English listeners using the simultaneous interpretation service.
The National Five-Year Plan is not the only China story. What about the Shanghai Five-Year Plan? The Guangdong Five Year Plan? What about the bold reforms of Shenzhen that were announced on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Special Economic Zone? And the prospects of the Greater Bay Area? And the Yangtze Delta?
In the past 12 months, and thanks to the governments for giving me exemptions from quarantine, I have visited nearly 20 different Mainland cities, many were my regulars. On every visit I discover new opportunities for Hong Kong and by extension foreign businesses. And every time upon my return to Hong Kong I have new stories to tell. Qingdao is fast developing its maritime business. It is now the 8th largest container port in the world in terms of throughput. It requires services such as maritime law and insurance. Ningxia is fast becoming the largest wine producing region in the Country. It needs markets and know-how to climb the next rung of the global ladder. Jiangsu Province with a population close to Germany’s, has just surpassed Germany in terms of electricity consumption because of its modern manufacturing industries. Trade in Guangxi is doing extremely well with its ASEAN neighbours. The New Land and Marine Routes for Western Regions which is a railway from Chongqing and Chengdu to to the ports of Guangxi is offering real and immediate prospects to the trade and logistics businesses. Then of course there are the cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Area. Nansha, which is a region of Guangzhou is creating a Hong Kong zone, leveraging on the nearby Hong Kong University of Science and Technology campus which will open its doors to the first batch of students in September next year. I could go on.
As a user of global news services, I don’t come across any of these stories. In the last two years, while China continues to surge ahead, opening its doors wider to other countries while reforming its economic sectors, news about the Country as reported by international media are mostly confined to politics - a result of agenda-setting by Western politicians who want to distract from their own government’s poor performance and failure. Hence China is associated only with the false allegations of genocides, and of the suppression of human rights, democracy and the freedoms. Disruptions to international travels in the last year due to the pandemic have given such politicians more wool to pull over the eyes of their people.
Before the reforms and opening up policy was launched in the late 1970’s on the Mainland of China, to most other countries, Hong Kong was the best conduit. It was the best entrepôt not only for goods and capital flows, but also news, information and analyses on matters, both political and economic, about China. Hong Kong also had the best news source and the largest research talent pool when it comes to China. Since the reforms and opening up, Hong Kong has been the largest single source of foreign investments and the Hong Kong population on the Mainland is the largest among all expatriate populations. Hong Kong has the best first-hand information on the Country.
In recent years, international media organisations have relocated part of their presence to the Mainland, ignoring in the process the unique capabilities of Hong Kong in China research, in interpreting China news and in telling China stories. Resources allocated by media organisations to the coverage of China does not match the fast growing importance of the Country and the fast changes in the Country as a news subject. The result is a serious defect and a cause for concern. What the audience gets, more often than not, is selective, patchy and sketchy.
Hong Kong has a unique mission and probably an even more unique role in rebalancing the range of China subjects in which the international audience should have an interest. We in Hong Kong definitely have the unique capabilities. The recent national census reveals that at least 370,000 Hong kong people reside on the Mainland, every one of them a witness to life in China and every one a good story source. We owe it to ourselves and to the “one country two systems” arrangement to reach out and speak out to the international community. We should present the people of the world with the full range of stories of China. The real China story must come out. The balanced narrative must come out. Hong Kong should take the international podium.