Hong Kong – September 7, 2018 – While political tensions between the U.S. and China threaten to fragment global innovation and technological advances in the near term, the longer-term global trend is toward a world in which capital and talent flow to where the opportunities and markets are.
That was the key takeaway from over 23 speakers, ranging from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to leading academics and tech industry experts, at the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong’s 2018 China Conference.
“This conference confirms that technology and innovation form a critical part of U.S.-China relations just as technology surges as a critical part of business development in every sector of the economy. Navigating the cross current between explosive business growth and political friction is a major challenge,” said AmCham President Tara Joseph.
“The world is only going to get flatter and flatter and flatter,” Charles Li, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing CEO, told more than 300 international business executives, diplomats and journalists at the Island Shangri-La Hotel today. “You can build walls but you cannot stop people from talking or sharing.”
“If we have to fight a trade war, let’s do it and see how far we get, but a tech war won’t get us anywhere.”
Nisa Leung, managing partner overseeing healthcare investments at Qiming Venture Partners, an investment firm with more than US$4 billion in assets and a portfolio of over 270 companies, said the explosion of new technologies being developed across sectors requires greater global cooperation rather than a retreat into protectionism.
At the other end of the spectrum, former Morgan Stanley Chief Economist and Asia Chairman Stephen Roach and Minxin Pei, a U.S.-based academic specializing in China’s economic reforms and governance, offered a pessimistic view in the conference’s opening session.
“Trump’s folly” has been to focus on the easily understood issue of bilateral trade deficits rather than addressing the fundamental cause in the chronic deficiency of U.S. domestic savings,” said Roach, now a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs. The U.S. had trade deficits with 102 nations in 2017. “There is no bilateral fix for a multilateral problem,” he said.
“The business community has not really absorbed the long-term consequences of the U.S.-China trade conflict,” said Pei. “Over the past 40 years the two countries worked very hard to build an economic interdependence… this kind of interdependence now poses an unacceptable risk.”
Other key takeaways:
China’s biggest challenge now is how to integrate and profit from the free flow of information. China has an “opportunity economy” but the world is even bigger.
Innovation and tech are ideas in people’s heads: Innovation goes beyond borders and will transform the three areas that engulf our lives: biotech, social media, e-commerce. Regardless of which nation you belong to, global collaboration will benefit us all: financially, physically and emotionally.
The escalating turf war between U.S. and China is really a strategic clash over progress in innovation and tech, the “holy grail” for any nation’s progress.
...And for Hong Kong:
Fate of Hong Kong depends on how China decides to use it: “The best policy for Beijing is to give Hong Kong a lot more autonomy… make Hong Kong truly autonomous, that way it will ensure Hong Kong’s prosperity,” said Minxin Pei.
This year’s event was generously sponsored by PCCW, Thomson Reuters Hong Kong, KPMG, Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Investment and Development, Crown Worldwide Group, Dun & Bradstreet, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Emerson, JLL, Lim-Loges & Masters, Cathay Pacific Airways as the Official Carrier, and PR Newswire Asia Ltd as the Official Newswire Partner. Media Partners include Asia Briefing, Caixin.com, China Daily Asia Pacific, Fortune China and South China Morning Post.
Photo 1: Opening keynote speakers: (from left) Stephen Roach, Robert Grieves (Moderator), Minxin Pei
Photo 2: Luncheon keynote speaker: Charles Li
Ms. Queenie Tsui
Manager, Government Relations & Public Affairs
Tel: (852) 2530 6914
E-mail: [email protected]
MORE ABOUT AMCHAM HK
With roughly 1,600 members, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) is one of the largest American Chambers outside the United States, the largest international chamber in Hong Kong, and one of the most dynamic and influential international business organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. AmCham’s mission is to foster commerce among the United States, Hong Kong, and Mainland China; and to enhance Hong Kong's stature as an international business center.