Greater Bay Area: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam reveals joint push with Shenzhen to lure overseas Chinese talent back home

Ng Kang-chung
·4-min read

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has revealed the city is working with Shenzhen to lure overseas Chinese professionals to the Greater Bay Area where they can advance their careers and help boost the region as an innovation and technology hub.

Lam, who was taking part in a panel discussion at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan on Tuesday, also stressed the need for a freer flow of talent, capital, resources and information among the bay area’s 11 cities which span three distinct jurisdictions.

“It is important to strive to have more innovation and research and development talent go to the Greater Bay Area, whether to Hong Kong or Shenzhen,” she said. “Therefore, Hong Kong and Shenzhen are joining hands to work out a joint policy package to attract overseas talents.

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Will Hong Kong play a central role in GBA project?

“Especially in these recent two years, some Western countries have not been very friendly to us Chinese. Therefore, our priority now is to attract our country’s scientific and research talent overseas back to Hong Kong or [elsewhere] in the Greater Bay Area.”

Under a national plan initiated by President Xi Jinping, the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and nine cities in Guangdong province will be integrated into a financial and technological powerhouse.

For an innovation and technology firm to grow ... it will have to go through Hong Kong

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong leader

The nine mainland Chinese cities are Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing.

At the panel discussion, Lam also called for the expansion of the “flow of the elements of technology and innovation” in the bay area.

“We are three places, three regions and three jurisdictions. [One challenge] is how to enhance the flow of people, capital and data,” she said, adding cooperation in medicine would also be needed to boost biotech development in the region.

What is the Greater Bay Area?

Lam said some of her policies were not rooted solely in the “Hong Kong perspective” but also took into account the need for closer cooperation with Shenzhen, citing as examples the opening of the Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai control point last August and the joint-development of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park.

While stressing the need for Hong Kong to further integrate with the mainland, Lam also noted the city’s role as an international fundraising centre could significantly contribute to the overall development of the bay area.

Hong Kong health care firms lead the way in Greater Bay Area integration

“For an innovation and technology firm to grow, it will need financing and need investment. Then, it will have to go through Hong Kong, because Hong Kong is an international financial centre,” Lam said.

She pointed out Hong Kong was the world’s second-largest biotech IPO fundraising market and the world’s No 2 IPO market in 2020.

Lam is among the more than 2,600 dignitaries, officials, business leaders and executives from over 60 countries and regions attending the conference. She also met guests and leaders of various mainland ministries, provinces and cities to discuss closer cooperation.

In media interviews in Hainan, Lam also said Hong Kong’s economy had been recovering from the social unrest of 2019 and the Covid-19 slump, while predicting 3-5 per cent growth this year. “It seems the worst time is over,” Lam told state broadcaster China Central Television.

In an interview with China Global Television Network, Lam said stability had returned in Hong Kong following the introduction of the national security law last June.

“We have now seen Hong Kong people recovering the freedom to speak their mind, and to go out, and to forget about all the chaos that has haunted Hong Kong for almost a year, since the latter half of 2019. I think that is a very obvious change and that is a change for the better, especially for overseas investors.”

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