Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang welcomed one of the world's most popular scientist Stephen Hawking to Government House here Friday and thanked him for inspiring Hong Kong young people.
"You have inspired every one of us here and we have never had a scientist as eminent as yourself coming to tell us and share with us your insights about the universe. We are indeed very honored that you've come," Tsang told Hawking.
"It is wonderful to have you here and I hope the professor will discover it is a very open city, a very free city, we are the freest economy in the world and we also have a heart and soul," Tsang said to his special guest.
Suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Hawking lost his ability to move and talk. He is now confined to a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a computer that responds to his blinks and generates his synthesized voice.
After some twitching and computer bleeps, Hawking replied to Tsang's question that Hong Kong was wonderful and had so much energy.
Hawking's daughter, Lucy, who accompanied him on his visit, presented the Chief Executive with a copy of "A Briefer History of Time", described as a science classic.
In return, Tsang sent a copy of rare and valuable Chinese Ancient Star Maps to Hawking. The 1,700-year-old maps describe how China's scientists had read the stars, named them and drawn them up.
"If you come across this part of the world again, do come and visit us. Our young people really love to see you here," Tsang said.
Hawking enthusiastically accepted the invitation. "I will. I have been to China twice before, but not to Hong Kong. Next time I will come here," he said.
Hawking, an astrophysicist and the author of the best-selling books such as "A Brief History of Time" and "The Universe in a Nutshell", is on a six-day visit to Hong Kong. He will leave for Beijing on June 17 afternoon to attend an academic conference.