Michael Ngai: City should proactively work with mainland on tech development

China launched the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft on June 17, sending three astronauts to the Tiangong space station for the first time. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, it is clear that China and the Chinese people have indeed stood up, grown rich and become strong and are able to view the world with a mindset of equality!

Currently, apart from the Tiangong space station, the International Space Station is the only space station in service. The ISS is operated by aerospace agencies of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Union. China is not included in the ISS project as a result of opposition from the US. In 2011, the US Congress passed a bill to stop NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from having any joint scientific activities or technical exchanges with China.

The Tiangong space station is expected to operate for at least 10 years. Meanwhile, the ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024, yet it is expected that the decommissioning will be delayed until 2028. Prior to this, the Mir space station, built by the Soviet Union, had been in service for over a decade and was the first long-term habitable space research center for human beings. It is foreseeable that the Chinese space station is likely to be the only space station operating in the future.

The successful launch of China’s Shenzhou 12 spacecraft serves as a wake-up call for Hong Kong to fully leverage its advantages as an international financial center to help the mainland enhance international scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges

Aerospace and military industries are at the forefront of technological advancements. The development of innovative technologies is thus an important area of competition among major countries. However, technological transfer restrictions by Western countries provide both threats and opportunities for China.

For instance, it is reflected from the experience of China’s aerospace development that the core technologies are not purchasable. China needs to strengthen its own scientific and technological development while reducing its dependence on imported high-tech products. This would further promote economic upgrading and transform the nation’s aerospace industry.

It should also be noted that in terms of its innovation and technological development, China has not decoupled from the world, nor have they been developed behind closed doors. On the contrary, China will continue to enhance and promote its scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges with the world.

Over the years, Hong Kong has established a huge network of contacts with overseas countries and regions and accumulated a lot of practical experience, which have helped promote in-depth international scientific research cooperation. This is due to the fact that Hong Kong has high-end research capabilities, and the internationalization and quality of university research are of world-class standards. Moreover, Hong Kong has five universities in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings.

It is therefore recommended that Hong Kong’s universities and the industrial chain in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area jointly build an international science and technology innovation center to strengthen the development of aerospace and military technology.

The financial benefits could be seen taking the US as an example. It spent US$24 billion on the Apollo program, and many technologies were converted for civilian use. This has ultimately led to an industrial value that exceeded US$200 billion. It is suggested that the Greater Bay Area International Science and Technology Innovation Centre increase the conversion rate of scientific and technological innovations in commercial production to meet the market demand. It would give an all-around boost to the economy.

To enhance the development of aerospace and military technology, the authorities could also facilitate aerospace and military companies to list on the Hong Kong stock market. Currently, there are not many aerospace and military companies listed on the Hong Kong stock market, as the authorities have always been concerned about the lack of listing precedents, the requirements for information disclosure, and the leakage of sensitive and confidential information, etc.

It would be desirable for the Hong Kong authorities to refer to the practice in overseas countries. In Europe and the US, aerospace and military-listed companies are required to launch the confidentiality systems and take concrete measures to protect the confidential information. For instance, the board of directors would be asked to set up a confidentiality and safety committee to monitor the handling of confidential information. When making disclosures, companies would be given the right not to disclose the information that is related to state secrets. It is of vital importance that the authorities in Hong Kong look for ways to ensure that listed aerospace and military companies meet the minimum standards for information disclosure and strengthen the protection of confidential information.

While there has been concern that the government may lose direct control of the listed aerospace and military companies, instead the government can regulate the listed companies by holding “golden shares” with special rights attached. The government may participate in the decision-making processes of the listed companies and help safeguard the strategic interests as well as national security.

It is believed that aerospace and military companies could benefit a lot by listing on the Hong Kong stock market. Hong Kong is the world’s largest IPO market as well as the gateway between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world. It possesses competitive advantages in talent, systems, taxation and laws. Being listed on the Hong Kong stock market, the aerospace and military companies could gain access to international markets and get to know the up-to-date international governance standards and business practices. The companies may find it convenient to develop international businesses and engage in international mergers and acquisitions.

The successful launch of China’s Shenzhou 12 spacecraft serves as a wake-up call for Hong Kong to fully leverage its advantages as an international financial center to help the mainland enhance international scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges. After all, the China space station would become a space laboratory that could be of tremendous benefit to all mankind!

The author is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and chairman of the Hong Kong Finance Association.


Source:China Daily [2021-09-15]