Hong Kong innovation chief in EU to strengthen bilateral relations, cooperation

Hong Kong’s innovation chief has highlighted the importance of boosting bilateral relations with the European Union in his meeting with top bloc officials for the first time in years.

Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Sun Dong is on a four-day visit to Belgium and France aimed at strengthening ties between the city and the EU in innovation and technology.

During his meeting with European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova in Brussels, Sun said the current stable social environment had enabled Hong Kong to focus on developing the economy, enhancing people’s livelihood and providing a better business environment for foreign investors.

“This is the first time in recent years that a principal official of the [Hong Kong government] has met with the senior leadership of the European Union,” he said.

“[This] precisely demonstrates the great importance that the Hong Kong government and the EU attach to maintaining and enhancing bilateral relations.”

Sun also spoke of the government’s efforts to turn the city into an international innovation and technology (I&T) centre, including the development directions and key strategies promulgated in the Hong Kong I&T Development Blueprint, which was released in December 2022.

Both sides held discussions on how to strengthen further innovation and technology cooperation. But no concrete plans have been revealed yet.

Sun also updated Zhu Jing, charge d’affaires of the Chinese Mission to the EU, on the latest situation regarding the city’s innovation and technology development.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sun met Claire Skentelbery, director general of Europe’s largest and most influential biotech industry group, EuropaBio, to learn more about its latest developments.

Sun told Skentelbery that the Hong Kong government would provide subsidies for local universities to collaborate with mainland Chinese and overseas organisations in setting up life and health technology research institutes to facilitate research and development, as well as attract talent and research teams.

Innovation chief Sun Dong (right) poses with European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova. Photo: Handout

The tech chief will leave for Paris on Thursday, France time, and attend VivaTech 2024, Europe’s largest technology and start-up event.

He is expected to return to Hong Kong on May 26.

Undersecretary Lillian Cheong Man-lei is set to act on Sun’s behalf on May 22, 23, 24 and 26, while Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu will take up the post on May 25.

The EU has reiterated its criticism of Hong Kong after the enactment of its domestic national security law, also known as the Article 23 legislation, in March.

Last month, the European Parliament adopted a resolution, urging the European Council to impose sanctions against Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu and all Hong Kong and mainland officials responsible for the crackdown on freedom in the city.

The last time a principal government official visited Europe was when Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po went last September.

But Chan only met representatives from local business, technology and culture sectors during his 12-day visit to the United Kingdom, France and Germany.



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