In witness of Pakistan's ambassador to China Moin ul Haque (back), Hong Kong Secretary for Education Choi Yuk-lin and Consul-General of Pakistan in Hong Kong Bilal Ahmad Butt sign a memorandum of understanding on education cooperation in Hong Kong on Jan 5, 2023. (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 via respective customs offices on Jan 8 with the mainland. Beijing’s refined policies for infection response, including the optimization of infection control and prevention and lifting of quarantine for inbound travelers, have yielded desired results.

Traveling is going to be revived, so we can see a new era of prosperity for the people of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a very important partner and friend of Pakistan.

Moin ul Haque, Pakistan's ambassador to China

“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 has eased”, he added.

Haque said that as a very important part of China, Hong Kong has 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 on 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 put a great emphasis on art and culture in policy, plan and speeches, as culture is often an area that people don’t pay enough attention to. 

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

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There will be better understanding and knowledge about 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 MOU 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 of close cooperation between Hong Kong and Pakistan in education. 

“We have signed nine MOUs with countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, to date. It demonstrates the government’s commitment to and effort in enhancing the internationalization of education as well as strengthening educational ties and exchanges with the BRI countries,” said Choi.

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

Around 500 Pakistani students are currently studying in the 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 of the two countries are really important,” he said. “We hope to implement this cooperation agreement”.

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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 are “not a true reflection of the potential”.

Regarding the 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 support of all Chinese investors and encourage them to come and take benefits from this huge project.”

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