The idea to form “The Maritime Silk Road Society” originated from the New People’s Party’s visit to Beijing in September 2014 led by Mrs. Regina Ip, Member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, Chairperson of New People’s Party and Savantas Policy Institute. During the meeting with officials of the National Development and Reform Commission, Mrs. Ip learned about the “Belt and Road Initiative” , and the principles of peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit underlying this initiative. It did not take Mrs. Ip and other members of the delegation long to appreciate that this strategy has the potential to transform the economic landscape of Asia, and holds great promise for Hong Kong.
To capitalize on the opportunities inherent in this initiative, Mrs. Ip decided to work with the organizations representing the provinces and cities along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and the organizations representing the overseas Chinese communities in Hong Kong (the founding organizations), to set up a ‘Maritime Silk Road Society”. The Society would help support and complement the implementation of this bold, ground-breaking initiative, identify opportunities for Hong Kong, promote stronger ties between Hong Kong and the countries and regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, as well as public understanding of the objectives and opportunities of “Belt and Road”.
The Maritime Silk Road Society was duly registered as a society under the Societies Ordinance in May. Following consultation with the founding organizations, the organization of the Society was structured to consist of the following tiers:
Advisers comprising business, religious, cultural and political leaders and academic experts from mainland China, Hong Kong and countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Hon. Presidents comprising business and community leaders based in Hong Kong who have a close interest in “The Belt and The Road”.
A Board of Governors comprising representatives of the “founding organizations” described above, and Savantas Policy Institute, and any other members nominated by the founding organizations. The Board of Governors would function as the main decision-making body.
An Executive Committee which would be responsible for the execution of the day-to-day work of the Society.
In view of the wide-ranging scope of the “Belt and Road” project which aims at building “five connections” (policy coordination, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond), the Society invited leaders of diverse cultural, ethnic, religious, business and academic backgrounds to serve as advisers and office-bearers.
The Society envisages that as implementation of this strategy gets under way, new infrastructure - ports, roads, railroads, pipelines - would be built and new shipping lanes developed. While the first group of enterprises to benefit would likely be firms engaged in infrastructure, Hong Kong would be well-positioned to function as a financing center. In due course, as regional growth is spurred by the abundant funding for the infrastructural projects and trade and investment enhancement measures, other sectors - trade (including e-commerce), logistics, technology, culture, tourism, business and professional services would all benefit.
There would be ample opportunities for Hong Kong to grow provided that Hong Kong people are willing to re-capture the ancient spirit of adventure epitomized by the Han dynasty explorer and diplomat Zhang Qian. Endless opportunities await Hong Kong if Hong Kong people are willing to venture outward as part of China’s “Belt and Road” team.
To enhance public understanding, in July and August 2015 Mrs. Ip held more than ten briefings for chambers of commerce, including international chambers of commerce, representatives of SMEs, finance, trade and logistics, technology and tourism sectors to brief them of the significance of this strategy and the implications for Hong Kong.
After months of hard work, the Society is formally inaugurated on 7 September 2015, with Mr. Zhou Bo, Deputy Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, as the officiating guest and the participation of officials from the Central Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, representatives of the local and foreign chambers of commerce, representatives of community organizations and overseas Chinese, and dignitaries who are related to the Silk Road.
Members of the public interested in this project are cordially invited to sign up as Individual, Student, Institutional or Corporate Member. The Society looks forward to working with interested sectors, firms and individuals to explore the tremendous, game-changing opportunities presented by “Belt and Road”, and looks forward to growing in unison with our great country.
The Silk Road was historically a trading route developed primarily for trade in silk products. First pioneered by the intrepid explorer and diplomat Zhang Qian in the Western Han dynasty, for more than two thousand years the Silk Road had linked Asia with Europe, providing a unique opportunity not only for trade, but also for cultural exchange. It has flourished again since the Han dynasty.
The Maritime Silk Road is the trade route by sea between China and foreign countries. The junk which appears in our logo originates from the classical Chinese writing of ‘si’ (絲, silk). The waves beneath the pictograph denoting “silk” signifies the ocean, while at the same time embedding the two letters ‘H’ and ‘K’, standing for Hong Kong.
The design is inspired by our country’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, which focuses on connectivity and co-operation among the countries in Asia and Europe. Hong Kong, as a part of China, is well positioned to play a significant role under our national vision to explore the bright future.