We unlock the value of our knowledge and scale up their impact through Government-University-Industry collaboration.
Belt and Road Cross-professional Advancement Programme
Committing to supporting the Belt and Road Initiative championed by the Nation, PolyU launched the Belt and Road Cross-Professional Advancement Programme in January 2019 with the objective to provide a first-ever cross-professional platform for professionals and business leaders in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland to exchange knowledge and share experience, as well as to network, explore market opportunities and develop multilateral collaboration. A total of seven workshops will be held in 2019.
Workshop 1: Feasibility Study on Belt and Road Projects
The first workshop held on 25-26 January 2019 attracted numerous Hong Kong, Mainland and international business executives and professionals from sectors including construction, telecommunications, energy, finance, banking, legal, business services and business chambers.
Apart from providing an update of the infrastructure projects and international financial institutions related to the Belt and Road Initiative, Prof. Eddie HUI, Associate Head, Department of Building and Real Estate, PolyU conducted training on project valuation techniques, international standard for project appraisal, and approaches on investment appraisal from financial, economic and environmental perspectives. Some examples about the appraisal of infrastructure projects were also shared during the workshop.
Going-out of Cost Management & Quantity Surveying Services
Dr. LAI Yuk-fai, Stephen, Managing Director of Rider Levett Bucknall Limited ( RLB) shared RLB’s consultancy experiences in five countries including Cambodia, South Korea and Russia, highlighting the key issues faced by companies pursuing overseas property projects. In view of the political risks, and various economic considerations such as taxation, capital flow, exchange rate and cost fluctuation, developers are advised to set aside sufficient time to conduct feasibility studies and to understand local infrastructure condition, market outlook, government approval process, provisions on project localization, as well as the local contractors and material supplier.
Hong Kong and Mainland real estate companies might consider collaborating with Chinese contractors with the operating team in Belt and Road countries and use Chinese contract to control investment risks. Mastering the local language is also crucial to project success, as they need to discuss and negotiate with local officials, as well as to prepare the legal documents for project approval by host governments.
Investment Feasibility Study on Belt and Road Industrial Park Projects
Prof. QU Jian, Vice President of China Development Institute(CDI) shared that CDI formulated the “123” framework to develop special economic zones, namely 1 set of law, 2 plans (industrial and spatial planning), 3 proposals (business model, financing, operation proposals), and adopted this framework to develop Belt & Road Industrial Parks. Upon confirmation of investment parties, they proceeded to seek legislative support on the operational governance of the park. A site evaluation was then conducted, followed by park planning and comprehensive feasibilities studies.
Development in special economic zones should follow the principle of “Industrial first, Residential later”, giving priority to industrial development, and real estate at the later stage. Prof. Qu particularly highlighted the competence of Hong Kong enterprises in terms of land development and their competitiveness in the industrial park development along the Belt & Road.
Pakistan and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
Mr. Abdul Qadir Memony, Consul General of Pakistan in Hong Kong SAR. provided an overview on Pakistan’s geographic, economic, regulatory situations. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the six economic corridors under the Belt and Road Initiative. With CPEC projects, the infrastructures related to energy, ports and railway sectors in Pakistan have been enhanced greatly. The projects also help the country alleviate poverty and create local employment.
Mr. Memony elaborated the CEPC’s development framework and its preferential investment measures. He also welcomed the participants to visit Pakistan to understand more about the local business environment.
Workshop 2: Financing the Belt and Road Initiative
The second workshop held on 15-16 February, hosted by 6 speakers and attracted numerous Hong Kong, Mainland and international executives and professionals from various business sectors.
Training sessions were chaired by Prof. Patrick Lam and Dr. Chiang Yat Hung, Department of Building and Real Estate, PolyU, on the financing arrangements for the Belt & Road infrastructure projects, ranging from financing guidelines, institutional frameworks, financial products, to the feasibilities of BOT (Build-operate-transfer) and PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) models.
To mitigate the financial risks, investors are recommended to use diversified financing instruments, seek multilateral financing resources, closely monitor currency stability, as well as to engage co-investment with local partners.
Investing and Operating with Zero Financing Support in Belt and Road Countries
Mr. Joseph Chan, Chairman & CEO of Kaisun Holdings Limited (Kaisun), made the first Belt & Road investment through acquiring Tajikistan coal mining rights with ownership stakes from an UK companies in 2011. Back then, Hong Kong financial sector was not ready for Central Asia investment, and provided no commercial loan. Kaisun needed to raise their investment fund through issuing consideration shares and arranging share swap scheme.
Unanticipated political hurdles shortly followed Kaisun’s initial commercial success, such as price control, export prohibition and huge tax claim on off-shore investment transactions posed by local government. Kaisun needed to bring the cases to court, and sought support from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international organizations.
It is recommended that talent nurturing, experience sharing, business education, and investment facilitation should be strengthened to stretch Hong Kong’s investment outreach along the Belt and Road.
Financing and Investment along Belt & Road
Mr. Christopher Tan, Corporate Finance and Capital Projects & Infrastructure Leader, PWC, shared that South and South East Asia dominated Belt & Road investments, with transportation, power, construction and telecom as focus. Power projects enjoyed operational advantage to manage revenue flow, while construction ones often encountered challenges to interact with local governments and domestic contractors.
Before carrying out infrastructure projects in Belt and & Road, investors should design financial modelling, understand default risk, profit remittance and currency control, as well as the concerns of local governments. For BOT projects, Chinese state-own construction enterprises are often strong at “build”, but find it challenging to “operate”. Hong Kong professionals are recommended to collaborate with Mainland enterprises for going-out, and forge win-win partnership.
Project Financing for Belt and Road Investment
Ms WANG Huifang, Deputy Director of Asset Finance Department, China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach), shared Sinomach’s Belt and Road investment experiences, and their measures in controlling investment risks.
For the China-Belarus Industrial Park project, Sinomach needed to devise park planning from construction and commercialization aspects, and partnered with other commercial entities, in order to meet the Belarus government’s expectations. Power investments were also made in Pakistan and Cambodia. Though faced some challenges at construction stage, power investments turned out to generate stable and predictable revenue.
Some of Sinomach’s Belt and Road investments were policy driven, they could seek diplomatic support when faced political risk. Whilst currency fluctuation became one of their biggest investment risks, Sinomach minimize unnecessary cross-border fund transfer to avoid currency risk. It is also important to clearly define investment principles and properly interact with hosting countries and local communities, for securing investment return and enhancing country’s image along the Belt and Road.
Kazakhstan and “Kazakh Invest”
Mr. Timur Temirkhanov, Consul of Kazakhstan in Hong Kong SAR, provided key information about Kazakhstan and its development potential. He introduced five top reasons to invest in Kazakhstan, namely strategic location, economic growth, business-friendly environment, investment incentives, and vast business opportunities.
Kazakh Invest, being a national company, is established as a “one stop shop” to facilitate investment in Kazakhstan. The organization connects overseas investors with relevant organisations, identify investment opportunities and offer necessary administrative support.
Workshop 3: Managing Risks in Belt and Road Projects
The third workshop was held on 29–30 March 2019, attracting more than 40 participants. Six expert speakers shared their insights on Belt and Road investments.
The training session was hosted by Dr. Shaojun Zhang, School of Accounting and Finance, PolyU, covering the issues of global risks, risk management guidelines, and risk control through adopting ISO 31000 standards, as well as exploring the risk ratings of Belt and Road countries and their economic diversities.
Dr. Zhang also conducted risk assessment exercises using a case study of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank’s financing project on rural road construction in India. Participants discussed the investment risks they perceived in various aspects, including politics, the environment, finance, communication, taxation, operations and information. Participants were also invited to conduct self-assessment on risk knowledge and management practice, raising their awareness of risk management.
Introduction to Cyber (Re)Insurance
Mr. Han Chen, Senior Vice President of Guy Carpenter & Co. Ltd., shared the latest global cyber risk situation and the damage it can incur on business sectors, and suggested possible remedies provided by cyber (re)insurance. Comparison was made of the legislative frameworks adopted by US, European, and APAC countries concerning individuals’ data and privacy protection. He also introduced different research models to estimate the economic loss caused by cyber disasters.
Through this presentation, the participants understood the role of cyber (re)insurance in managing cyber risks, the availability of insurance solutions, and different quantitative modellings to reduce potential cyber loss.
Managing Risks in Belt and Road Projects
Mr. Pat-Nie Woo and Mr. Michael Camerlengo, Partners of KPMG, briefed the participants on the business opportunities arising from the “Physical” and “Connected” Belt and Road, with infrastructure and financial services seeing massive business potential. Different assessment methods on Belt and Road investment projects were presented, aided by a case-study-driven approach that considered market, industry, and project-specific factors. The best practice for analyzing, mitigating, and allocating project risks was also discussed.
Speakers also highlighted Hong Kong’s competitive advantages in tapping into Belt and Road development, as well as reminding participants of the importance of identifying potential investment risks and devising a well-structured mitigation plan.
CPEC Project Risk Management: Karot Hydropower Project
Mr. Zhang Xinlin, Chief Financial Officer of China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd. (CSAIL), presented the case of CSAIL’s hydropower investment in Karot, Pakistan, and their risk management practices.
The Karot Hydropower Project is a signature project in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor programme. It was the Silk Road Fund’s first investment project and the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, was invited to be a strategic shareholder, strengthening the project’s global dimension.
Prior to the investment, CSAIL conducted comprehensive feasibility studies on the Karot project including country assessment, regulation auditing, market studies, and project analysis. To guard against potential political risks, several agreements were signed with Pakistani bureaux to ensure that policy-sensitive factors such as tariffs, power procurement, local permits, and water supply were properly monitored. To tackle depreciation and inflation risks, CSAIL worked with the Pakistani government and various parties to devise an indexed mechanism on tariffs, water-use fees, insurance, and loan interests.
Besides, CSAIL developed an organization framework to monitor risk factors at corporate, entity, and department level. The company also implemented a vast range of measures to mitigate risks arising from aspects such as construction, tax, law, integrity, credit, the environment, and human resources.
Capitalizing on the advantages of the Greater Bay Area for Belt and Road Investment
Mr. Caesar Wong, Managing Director of China Business Services, RSM Tax Advisory (Hong Kong) Ltd., shared his insights into the global economic outlook and Belt and Road business opportunities. He focused on Greater Bay Area (GBA) development, including its international comparison with other renowned bay economies, its economic structure, the latest policies bestowed on the region, and Hong Kong’s roles in the GBA.
In terms of financial and taxation management of cross-border investment, Mr. Wong pointed out various things to consider when managing overseas taxation, and the possible risks associated with overseas “permanent establishment”. He recommended that mainland enterprises could make use of Hong Kong business platforms to optimize Belt and Road investment from the perspectives of operations and taxation.
Seminar: Hong Kong as a Gateway to the Belt and Road Countries: Perspectives from Regional Leaders
PolyU Promotes Hong Kong as a Gateway to Belt and Road Countries
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), organised a seminar “Hong Kong as a Gateway to the Belt and Road Countries: Perspective from Regional Leaders” on 31 May 2019. The seminar was organised in order to tap into emerging opportunities in the Belt and Road (B&R) region and capitalise on Hong Kong’s role as a super connector and facilitator.
Renowned business leaders and professionals were invited to share the latest B&R developments, discuss economic and political challenges, exchange business intelligence, and stimulate forward-looking global strategies.
Dr. Miranda Lou, PolyU Executive Vice President, opened the seminar by emphasising the university’s determination to promote professional advancement and knowledge transfer for B&R development. She also highlighted PolyU’s strategy to collaborate with government, professional bodies and stakeholders to achieve this.
Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the 12th Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, indicated that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made considerable progress from an international perspective. He expected to see more projects completed and benefits realised in Sri Lanka in the next few years. Mr. Cabraal reported that Chinese enterprises have a good reputation for completing infrastructure projects on time, thus making Chinese contractors a top choice for developing countries. He urged Chinese enterprises to make more effort to engage with domestic communities, and to stress the long-term benefits that infrastructure projects will generate. This, he said, will persuade locals to buy into BRI projects.
Mr. Cabraal was asked about debt trap concerns arising from China’s port investment in Sri Lanka. He replied that “only 8% of Sri Lanka’s entire debt was to China, which is less than Sri Lanka’s debt to other international financial institutions. The debt story hurt not only China but also Sri Lanka”. In his view, if this issue can be properly addressed, the BRI can greatly alleviate poverty around the world in the future.
Ms. Heidi Chui, a partner of Stevenson, Wong & Co., highlighted Hong Kong’s unique position in terms of international dispute resolution, and its arbitration-friendly judicial system. In her experience, handling BRI cases requires the mentality of “groping for stones to cross the river”, while dialogue, compromise and inclusion are all essential. She suggested that investors facing unforeseen business risks should carry out proper due diligence, calculate risk before investing, and collaborate with the right local partners.
Ms. Chui encouraged young legal talent to venture into the BRI: “Young talented people with stamina and flexibility, who are willing to sacrifice their time to understand different cultures in BRI countries, and navigate troubled waters by applying legal skillsets: these professionals make it possible for everybody to win.”
Mr. Michael Ross, Vice Chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, indicated that the BRI is a good idea proposed by China. Charoen Pokphand Group is constructing a railway in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor Development Project (EEC) in collaboration with Chinese and Japanese enterprises. He believes it is of utmost importance to use such new infrastructure to develop new industries, putting more business factors into the new economic equation.
Mr. Ross stressed that “sharing ideas, building together and sharing benefits are three key principles for BRI projects. Not only one party should gain, but all. You have to share with local partners, or nobody will work with you and you cannot win”. He added that it is crucial to partner with local entities to share knowledge and mitigate risk. Hong Kong companies should follow the major Chinese enterprises’ footsteps for Belt and Road investment.
Mr. Wang Bing, Deputy Chief Executive of Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited (BOC), shared his experiences of Chinese infrastructure and trade activities in the Belt and Road region, highlighting job creation, improved connectivity and energy provision. As the headquarters for BOC’s ASEAN operations, BOC (Hong Kong) has established branches in eight ASEAN countries. Mr. Wang particularly invited Hong Kong young professionals to work on Belt and Road projects, and build their future in these emerging regions.
Addressing concerns about the environmental sustainability and economic viability of BRI projects, Mr. Wang stressed that “BOC will conduct stringent environmental audits, communicate with local environmental bureaus, and invite third-party consultants. BOC will apply three priorities for BRI financing: transparency, international standards, and economic feasibility”.
The seminar attracted almost 200 participants from business, professional bodies, public institutions and foreign consulates. They enjoyed ample opportunities to interact with like-minded business leaders, officials, professionals and executives to explore BRI opportunities. The event was an ideal platform to explore innovative ideas and meet future partners.
Silk Road International School of Engineering (SRISE)
Established by PolyU and Xi’an Jiaotong University to nurture high-level talent in the power and energy field, the Silk Road International School of Engineering (SRISE) launched its first university-industry collaboration in April 2018 in cooperation with the Hong Kong Electric Company and the State Grid Corporation of China.
Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy
The Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy is the first cross-regional project of its kind in mainland China and Hong Kong. Partnering with State Grid Corporation of China and The Hongkong Electric Company Limited, the programme, rolled out by the Silk Road International School of Engineering (SRISE), helps strengthen the connection and facilitate technology exchange among senior executives and researchers of enterprises and higher education institutions.
Ultra High Voltage, Smart Grid and Electricity Infrastructure for Resilient City | 24 March to 3 April 2019
25 senior professionals from enterprises or government agencies, as well as veteran academics and researchers from 12 Belt and Road countries/regions were graduated from SRISE for the second consecutive year. This year's Programme focused on field-trip study at the State Key Laboratory of Electrical Insulation and Power Equipment in Xi'an, as well as various practical training facilities of State Grid in Jinan. In Hong Kong, they visited the System Control Centre and Lamma Power Station of HK Electric, and have exchanges with PolyU academia on Artificial Intelligence for Electricity Supply.
Ultra High Voltage Transmission and Smart Grid | 13 to 27 April 2018
Over the two weeks, field-trip studies of special power facilities in Beijing, Jinan, Xi'an and Hong Kong were arranged for the 30 participants from 12 Belt and Road countries/regions. They learnt about advanced design, technologies, management and global development of power and energy field, and gained practical knowledge and experiences from veteran academics and professionals from PolyU, Xi'an Jiaotong University, State Grid and HK Electric.
Faculty of Business - Belt and Road Centre
Established in 2017, the Belt and Road Centre serves as a multi-disciplinary platform that pools the Faculty’s research strengths in areas including logistics and maritime studies, finance, economics, marketing, management and international business to conduct inter-disciplinary research, consultancy and curriculum development activities relevant to Belt and Road development. More regional intellectual exchanges on the Belt and Road are taking place.
High Impact Consultancy
SHTM-ICON Consultancy Service for Professional Hospitality
Collaboration with King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia
Curriculum Development for Tourism & Travel Diploma Program in the Tourism Institute, King Abdulaziz University
The PolyU SHTM+ICON Consultancy offers professional hospitality-related consultancy services to the industry worldwide.
Railway Monitoring System for Singapore Metro Lines (SMRT Mainline)
Collaboration with SMRT Trains Limited, Singapore
The PolyU Train and Track Condition Monitoring (TTCM) System is the first in the world to include fibre-optic sensors in both passenger train carriages and tracks for cross-monitoring, thus enabling the identification of railway defects quickly. The system has been adopted in Singapore’s two busiest metro lines.
Provision of Clinical Trial on Shamir Aspheric Ophthalmic Lenses, MyLens, for Myopic Control
Collaboration with Shamir Optical Industry Ltd., Israel