Chief Executive John Lee tells belt and road entrepreneurs at high-powered Beijing conference Hong Kong is open for investment

Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu has told a Beijing gathering of entrepreneurs from all over the world to set up offices in the city to tap into China’s international trade Belt and Road Initiative.

Lee, in his first appearance at the high-level Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, on Tuesday turned the spotlight on Hong Kong’s important role in the country’s trade strategy.

“I cordially invite all entrepreneurs here to come to Hong Kong to set up your belt and road offices,” Lee told the high-powered gathering.

“Let us join hands to uncover the many opportunities and drive more high-standard, sustainable and high-quality development projects that are beneficial to people’s livelihood to achieve development and prosperity for all.”

Staff at the belt and road forum in Beijing with the meeting’s logo. Photo: Edgar Su

He told the meeting’s CEO Conference that the financial hub had seen an increased number of regional headquarters and more direct investment in countries covered by the initiative since 2017, when Hong Kong started to pour resources into the trade strategy.

Lee told the audience at the opening event of the two-day forum that Hong Kong was an international financial hub, an offshore renminbi centre as well as the only common law jurisdiction in the country.

He added Hong Kong had played an important role in the belt and road strategy, a plan to link economies in Asia, Europe and Africa into a major trade network.

Lee said the city’s role as a “participant, facilitator and beneficiary” of the belt and road plan was underlined by the number of regional headquarters established in Hong Kong by companies from countries involved in the initiative, which doubled from 83 in 2017 to 168 in 2022.

Hong Kong leader to helm 70-strong delegation at belt and road forum in Beijing

He added Hong Kong’s direct investment in countries which are part of the strategy had hit US$120 billion in 2021.

Lee said the amount of renminbi remittances for cross-border trade settlement had recorded an average annual growth rate of more than 18 per cent over the past few years.

“These figures eminently reflect the immense growth potential of belt and road countries,” Lee said.

Lee was third to speak at the CEO Conference after He Lifeng, the country’s vice-premier, and Gao Yunlong, the chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

Hong Kong to sign agreements in Beijing for three projects worth US$450 million

The official opening ceremony of the third belt and road summit, to be attended by President Xi Jinping and leaders from other countries, will be held on Wednesday.

Lee is expected to address two other events on connectivity and local corporations later the same day.

The chief executive on Monday revealed that Hong Kong was also poised to sign three agreements for projects worth a total of US$450 million by the end of the session.

The city’s 70-strong delegation includes 11 senior officials, including Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok and commerce secretary Algernon Yau Ying-wah, as well as top business leaders.

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