Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, June 06, 2003

Interview: Hong Kong -- a Place Full of Opportunities

"Up to the end of this May, we had completed so far this year 70 investment projects," Mike Rowse,director-general of Invest Hong Kong, told Xinhua in an interview recently.


"Up to the end of this May, we had completed so far this year 70 investment projects," Mike Rowse,director-general of Invest Hong Kong, told Xinhua in an interview recently.

Now that the Legislative Council has approved 200 million Hong Kong dollars (25.6 million US dollars) for the investment promotion efforts in the next five years, the investment promotionagency's head is sure his work would get a fresh boost.

"Our priority in the immediate future is to gear up to deliver many more investment projects," said Rowse.

The new fund will be used to broaden Invest Hong Kong's external representation, strengthen its presence in existing markets, and hold more joint marketing activities with cities in the Pearl River Delta, Rowse said.

His agency will employ 13 additional staff in Hong Kong, engageconsultants in nine overseas locations to undertake promotional activities, and hire a corporate communications consultant to strengthen the department's capabilities, the director-general said.

Rowse said the agency aims to attract more than 200 overseas investment projects in Hong Kong in 2004, which means almost doubling the current figure.

In 2002, the department attracted and assisted 117 foreign companies to set up or expand existing operations in Hong Kong. The projects generated total investment of more than 1.36 billion Hong Kong dollars (174 million US dollars) and created over 2000 jobs in Hong Kong.

"I think the reason why we have some success is that we have here people very clever," he said with a broad smile.

Rowse also attributed the success to two consultancy studies. One in 1999 said what Hong Kong basically was doing wrong, and thekey message coming from the other one in 2001 was that it's a mustto focus.

"If an investment promotion agency tries to be all things to all people, it will end up to be nothing to everybody," the director-general explained.

Mike Rowse has been the chief of Invest Hong Kong since it was set up on July 1, 2000 as a government department responsible for promoting Hong Kong's image to the world as Asia's best place to do business and attracting foreign investment. He has plenty of confidence in the city.

Among Hong Kong's strong points, he cited the world-class infrastructure, international lifestyle, free flow of information,clean government, rule of law, skilled workforce, low taxes, levelplaying field, unrivaled location and gateway to the Chinese mainland.

"We accept the reality that Hong Kong is a large service-oriented economy. We are not trying to switch against the tide," he said.

Regarding the question of comparing Hong Kong with the Yangtze River Delta as the business center, Rowse said that "it's an entertaining question."

"When I went to the United States, they asked me this question,and when I went to Europe, I got the same question," he said.

"I said once that the United States is a big country and it needs many business centers. And China is a big country, it also needs many more business centers," he said.

"I think China as a rapidly growing nation needs more business centers, and Hong Kong's position and advantages as a unique business center will remain in the long run," he stressed.

"Hong Kong remains foreign companies' launching pad for international brands and new products. It is also their preferred Asian base for tapping the huge potential of the mainland market,"said Rowse.

He said that Hong Kong's leading place in Asia will enhance, instead of lessening, as it enjoys four advantageous features, namely the convertible currency, rule of law, free flow of information and a sound banking system.

Born in the United Kingdom, Mike Rowse has been living in Hong Kong for 31 years and harbors a deep feeling toward the city. He gave up his British nationality and was nationalized as a Chinese in August 2001, the first expatriate civil servant in Hong Kong todo this.

"It is natural as I have lived here for over 30 years and have a senior position in the SAR government," he said, adding that "I will not be the last."

To Mike Rowse, Hong Kong is "a place full of opportunities." Hefelt satisfied with his career in the Hong Kong government and hislife with his Chinese wife and children.

Talking about the outbreak of SARS over the last couple of months, Rowse said he and his family had been worried at first, "but we are lucky that we have so dedicated medical workers here and I am very proud of them."

As the killer virus is fading away, he believes many people will find more advantages of Hong Kong as a place to live and do business.

"I myself love to live here. It's my home. I want it to be welland I believe it will get better," he said with smile again.

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