The chairperson of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation has said it is not possible to ensure that there will be more Hongkongers than mainlanders working at the new Lok Ma Chau Loop borderzone technology park. They will have to face challenges from global talent bidding for jobs, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fan said.

The 87-hectare new park will be run by a new subsidiary of the existing corporation. Questions have been raised over the fact the site is much closer to Shenzhen than Hong Kong’s urban area and that it may not benefit the local tech industry. Mainland people who will work there may be granted special permission to cross the border.

Law said that the new park was a breakthrough as it will attract foreign capital and increase opportunities for young people to start a business.

Fanny Law.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday, she denied that the project will only benefit tech development in the mainland.

“There is lots of tech talent in Hong Kong, but the number is still not high enough. If we can attract talent from Shenzhen, that can increase tech innovation in Hong Kong,” she said.

But she stressed that, to obtain a mutual benefit, Hong Kong society should change its mindset whereby it thinks only doctors, lawyers and engineers will be successful. Working in tech innovation could benefit mankind, improve living conditions, and develop Hong Kong’s economy, she said.

Photo: Planning Department.

Asked about jobs for Hong Kong people at the new park, Law said it would be a fair competition in that Hong Kong’s tech talent would have to face up to globalisation.

“No where in the world would give such a limitation… If a large company settles in Hong Kong, it is paying tax in Hong Kong, it will want to hire the best people – why should they be limited to hiring Hong Kong people?” she said.

“Maybe the talent it wants will be from the mainland. That is fine. There is no problem that mainland talent comes to Hong Kong, settles down here and become Hongkongers – as long as they are contributing to Hong Kong society.”

Photo: Planning Department.

Her comment came a day after an opposing view was offered by Annie Choi Suk-han, the government’s Commissioner for Innovation and Technology.

Choi said she believed the corporation will set rules to balance the number of Hong Kong, mainland and overseas companies and the ratio of where their employees originate.

She also dismissed criticism that the area was too far away for Hong Kong people.

“Transport is of course an issue. But don’t forget we are also developing the North Eastern New Territories as well. Why do we all have to live in Hong Kong Island or Kowloon when it is already so crowded?” she said. “If you work at the loop, it would be really good if you live in the North Eastern New Territories.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.