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HK set to firm tech ties with mainland

During a four-day visit to Guangdong, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu and his large delegation of officials and lawmakers signaled the city is ready to seek stronger links with technology manufacturers in the province.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is likely to enter projects with tech giants including BYD and Huawei following the visit, and as part of efforts to build the city into a global innovation and technology hub.

The high-profile visit, which began on Friday, followed President Xi Jinping's call for further integration of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area during his recent inspection tour to the province. During his tour, Xi said the city cluster holds strategic importance in the country's new development paradigm.

The HK delegation first went to Shenzhen and then split into two groups to make separate stops in Dongguan and Foshan over the weekend. They are scheduled to end their trip together in Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital, on Monday.

Together with five bureau heads and 83 legislators, Lee visited the headquarters of electric carmaker BYD in Shenzhen on Saturday morning.

After taking a test ride on BYD's SkyShuttle mass transit system, Lee said he is open to the idea of introducing the company's small-capacity system to Hong Kong.

"I'll play a very active role in driving the (transportation and logistics) bureau to study building green and advanced mass transportation systems in Hong Kong," Lee said.

On Sunday, the group led by Lee met with the management of telecommunications giant Huawei in Dongguan. The company said it intended to develop big data projects in Hong Kong's planned Northern Metropolis area to drive the development of various industries such as renewable energies.

Announced in the 2021 Policy Address, the Northern Metropolis, with a total land area of about 300 square kilometers, covers Yuen Long and North District of Hong Kong. With innovation and technology as a pillar, the HKSAR government aims to build the region, which will take 20 years to complete, into a new development engine for the city.

Noting that big data is Huawei's strength, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, who was part of the delegation, said that Hong Kong is an ideal place to push forward big data projects, given its strong scientific and research capacity, rich talent pool and stable power supply.

On Sunday, the other HK delegation looked at advanced robotic technology during its visit to Foshan. The team, led by Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, expressed enthusiasm for introducing robotic technology to Hong Kong after visiting two tech firms, Bright Dream Robotics and Kuka Robotics, and observing their products.

After visiting Bright Dream's "robotic restaurant" to observe automated machines making snacks and coffee, lawmaker Duncan Chiu, who represents the technology and innovation functional constituency, said the Hong Kong government should be more "open" in introducing, applying and regulating technology from the Chinese mainland. He added that there's a 10-year gap between the two sides regarding the development of robotics.

"We should have an open mind to embrace new technologies, especially in regard to the Internet of Things' hardware technology, such as the robots we saw today," Chiu said.

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