Mineral-rich Northeast China, comprising the coastal Liaoning and landlocked Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, has traditionally been a centre for heavy industry and is now reworking itself as a hub for high-value, high-technology production.
Liaoning and its principal cities, Shenyang and Dalian, forms the gateway to the region. As with Hong Kong, Dalian is historically an east-meets west city, having been a Russian port in the 19th and early 20th century.
The Northeast and Liaoning play a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative. Shortly after the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong last month, Liaoning hosted the Liaoning-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Promotion Conference.
The conference heard Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive John Lee and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Regional Director for North and Northeast China Kevin Chan say that they believed Hong Kong, Liaoning and the Northeast could build up the Belt and Road and strengthen the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Mr Lee drew the conference’s attention to President Xi Jinping’s speech at the recent Promoting the Comprehensive Revitalisation of the Northeast in the New Era symposium, where the president emphasised that the Northeast should use technological innovation to promote industrial innovation and enhance cooperation with the outside world. This could be done by deep integration into the Belt and Road, as well as stronger connection with major national strategies such as the GBA.
Liaoning and Hong Kong were thousands of kilometres apart but had close economic, trade, cultural, youth and other links. Hong Kong has always been the main source of foreign investment in Liaoning and the preferred platform for the province’s enterprises to expand overseas. The SAR Government established the Liaison Office in Liaoning in 2014 to comprehensively strengthen exchanges and cooperation between Hong Kong and the Northeast.
The HKTDC has also set up an office in Dalian to manage cooperation with all three Northeast provinces – one of 13 HKTDC offices in Mainland China. The HKTDC offices in the mainland help importers and exporters expand their markets, match up potential investors and business partners and help organise seminars, conferences and exhibitions in the mainland and abroad. The HKTDC has also set up GBA support centres in several Guangdong cities.
Liaoning has unique advantages and functions in innovation-driven development. Hong Kong and the province cooperate in many areas, such as leveraging Hong Kong’s financial platform and professional service advantages. The city could meet Liaoning’s needs in the fields of science and technology research and development and innovation, and help Liaoning in the fields of capital-market and risk management.
In addition, by taking advantage of Hong Kong's international talent advantages and cooperating with Liaoning's corporate development needs, talent cooperation also had great potential.
Liaoning and Hong Kong could further strengthen exchanges in professional services and jointly seize the huge opportunities the Belt and Road Initiative brought.
The HKTDC hopes to further expand cooperation areas with Liaoning and combine the city’s advantages such as extensive international connections and professional-service development with Liaoning's strategy to base its go-global drive in Hong Kong.
The HKTDC will actively organise activities to build bridges for enterprises in the two places, explore investment cooperation opportunities for Liaoning enterprises and Hong Kong's service industry, and encourage enterprises from both places to join hands in going global and explore broader cooperation opportunities.
HKTDC Research data shows Liaoning, as at the end of 2021, had a population of 42.29 million and had the highest regional gross domestic product in the Northeast, accounting for 49.6% of the total value of the three provinces in 2020.
The province has an area of 148,000 square kilometres and a coastline of 2,178 kilometres.