With Pakistan Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque (center) as witness, HKSAR Secretary for Education Choi Yuk-lin (right) and Consul General of Pakistan in Hong Kong Bilal Ahmad Butt sign a memorandum of understanding on education cooperation on Jan 5 in Hong Kong. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

The revival of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s economy is bringing a new era of prosperity for its people and better exchanges with the outside world, including Pakistan, said Moin ul Haque, Pakistan’s ambassador to China.

The ambassador was in Hong Kong late last week as the city resumed normal travel on Jan 8 with the mainland.

“Traveling is going to be revived, so we can see a new era of prosperity for the people of Hong Kong,” said the ambassador. “I think it is a very exciting time to be here.”

The expected revival of Hong Kong is “on the cards as the travel restrictions to the HKSAR have eased”, he added.

Haque said that as a very important part of China, Hong Kong has the potential to sustain its growth with strength, especially “with a new chief executive and new policies that have been put in place, and a new roadmap under the guidance and vision of President Xi Jinping”.

Pakistan has a strong, historical linkage with Hong Kong. The Consulate General of Pakistan in Hong Kong was established more than 60 years ago.

“Hong Kong is a very important partner and friend of Pakistan,” said the ambassador, adding that Pakistan’s Consul General in Hong Kong, Bilal Ahmad Butt, and his team have been making strong efforts to further promote the multifaceted ties between the city and Pakistan.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges, we have kept the momentum of bilateral cooperation and trade,” Haque said. “So I’ve come here just to give further support to the ongoing efforts.”

The ambassador had an extensive agenda: he met with Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu; visited Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, president of the HKSAR’s Legislative Council; talked with Starry Lee Wai-king, the party leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong; and had meetings with leaders of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Apart from discussing education and trade with the chief executive, Haque said he was glad that Lee places great emphasis on art and culture in policy, plans and speeches, as culture is often an area that people don’t pay enough attention to.

“We would like Pakistani culture to be promoted in Hong Kong. We would like people in Hong Kong to learn about the culture, cuisine and music of Pakistan by visiting various places in Pakistan” Haque said.

There will be better understanding and knowledge of each other with more exchanges, which could lead to further investments and more bilateral trade, he added.

On Jan 5, the Consulate General of Pakistan and Hong Kong’s Education Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of education between Pakistan and the HKSAR.

The memorandum was signed by Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin and Pakistan Consul General Butt, with Ambassador Haque as witness. Choi said the agreement marks the beginning of a new phase in close cooperation between Hong Kong and Pakistan in education.

According to a government press release, the memorandum covers exchanges in expertise and experience as well as educational literature, teaching aids and demonstration materials. The mutually beneficial initiatives also involve exchanges in scholars, teachers, experts, students and other education personnel.

Around 500 Pakistani students are currently studying in HKSAR universities.

“But we would like to expand it even further…not only (in) exchanges between students and faculty, but also, the cooperation between the educational institutions are really important,” the ambassador said. “We hope to implement this cooperation agreement”.

Haque also visited CK Hutchison, one of the largest investment groups of Hong Kong in Pakistan.

“So the agenda or the spectrum of bilateral relations with Hong Kong is very diverse and deep,” he said.

The ambassador’s attention is also on trade, saying the current volume of $1 billion between the two sides is “not a true reflection of the potential”.

Regarding investments in Pakistan, he said, “There are many opportunities for investments in various sectors in CPEC, or the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, so we will be seeking the support of all Chinese investors and encourage them to come and benefit from this huge project.”