The treatise Hong Kong in the Belt & Road Initiative was published in Special Administrative Region last month. The Chief Editor of the book, Lam Kin-chung gives personal account in the foreword about some of the latest developments. It is as follows:

The Chinese edition of Hong Kong in the Belt & Road Initiative was published in 2016 and achieved overwhelming success. It was quite exceptional for this kind of book to attain a second edition and to sell out all copies.

I have been involved in civil diplomacy for 16 years and hope the English version can deepen the understanding of Hong Kong’s role in the Belt & Road Initiative among think tanks of foreign countries. Of course, developments between 2016 and 2019 are included in the English version as well.

Developments in the Belt & Road Initiative during the past six years have been fruitful, but there have been some hurdles. As chief editor of this book, my contribution was limited to providing the outline and inviting entrepreneurs and scholars to participate in composing the chapters.

Detailed elaborations of success and difficult case studies can be found in the book. I think it is not appropriate for me to repeat them in this foreword. As an entrepreneur, I would prefer to share my personal experience with you in the following paragraphs.

President Xi Jinping has outlined the five principles of the Belt & Road Initiative.

Among them, I think “People’s Heart Connection” is the most important issue. State-owned enterprises typically invest in massive infrastructure projects under the Belt & Road umbrella. The objective may be right, but the masses might not benefit from them in the short term. Some projects have been halted because of changes to the government authorities. As a real estate merchant, I chose Indonesia as my pioneer project.

On Aug 8, 2017, I had a formal meeting with then-national vice-president Jusuf Kalla in his office. I proposed a low-cost housing project in the form of BOT (build-operate-transfer) for a period of 30 years. An SOE would be a minor shareholder in our joint venture company. Funding would be provided from my side, and on the other hand, the SOE shareholder would be responsible for rent collection and act as a guarantor.

It was my firm belief that this kind of project would be welcomed by underprivileged Indonesians. The deal finally fell through mainly due to my insistence that the city of jurisdiction for the joint venture be registered in Hong Kong.

In case of any dispute, the arbitration would be heard in court either in Hong Kong or in London, both of which follow common law principles. On Feb 1, 2019, the governor of Jakarta greeted me warmly in his office. Nevertheless, I was much more concerned about the assurance of investment returns and following common law in case of disputes.

What inspired me from this experience is that all cooperation agreements signed by China and other countries should assign Hong Kong to be the city of jurisdiction and appoint Hong Kong accountancy firms as auditors.

There is no doubt that Hong Kong young people will benefit under such a policy. Hong Kong adolescents can be trained as genuine world citizens, a positive development for the stability of Hong Kong. It is my sincere wish that my limited viewpoints and experience will arouse the interests from the specialists.

Author: Lam Kin-chung.