Hong Kong-based scientists stand as a major driving force in the national technological push and should play a more proactive part in the country's undertakings to transform the world's second-largest economy into a genuine science and innovation powerhouse, said Chan Ching-chuen, founding president of World Electric Vehicles Association.
"A higher level of bilateral cooperation in science and technology between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong is something inherent in the 'one country, two systems' principle.
"It stands as a living embodiment that the policy has been consistently enriched and developed," said Chan, who is also honorary professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong.
Chan Ching-chuen, founding president of the World Electric Vehicles Association, says Hong Kong must seize the opportunities to become a leading innovator in the Bay Area. Parker Zheng / China Daily
This fits in well with the world's second-largest economy charting its own course to become "a global scientific and technology superpower" by 2049. The cooperation drive also moves in line with Hong Kong's pressing need to diversify its economy away from the traditional twin pillars - financial services and real estate - toward innovative technologies, added Chan.
His remarks echo President Xi Jinping's pledge to bankroll many of the research and development projects contributing to Hong Kong's technological vision.
Known as a leader of the city's scientific community, Chan joined 24 Hong Kong-based academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering who wrote to Xi last June.
"When Hong Kong returned to its motherland back in 1997, the Asia's financial center missed out on the golden opportunity to join hands with Shenzhen to sharpen its edge as a stalwart innovator," Chan noted. "This time, as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area mega plan signals a new phase in cross-boundary collaboration, Hong Kong cannot afford to miss the boat anymore."
"Such a big trend clamors for a sense of crisis among local regulatory and scientific communities in the face of increasingly grave challenges. The city should lose no time in finding its place in the national science-technology development," Chan said.
The special administrative region government should take more active steps to develop an effective mechanism to coordinate with mainland policymakers, he added.
Chan, dubbed "the father of Asian electric vehicles", believed that Hong Kong is "an ideal testing ground of electronic vehicles". It can capitalize on its impeccable strength in technological advancement and international standards.
But the city lacks land resources and huge investments to support mass production of electronic cars. This is where the mainland could come in by boosting the coal-powered nation's big bets on a green-car market and a worldwide clean energy revolution, he said.
The country is a global heavyweight presence in terms of electric vehicle production. When it comes to developing core technology in this area, it still faces some difficult challenges, Chan said.
"The prospects of electronic vehicles dwell on the enhanced collaboration between the mainland and Hong Kong. It proves to be a living example of how Hong Kong scientists' strengths could be given full play - underscoring the country's vision to lead the pack in the next technological breakthroughs," added Chan.