keen to participate in the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative as it involves so much infrastructure building, like high speed railway, gas pipelines and also power systems,” said Lam.
According to a report published by Moody’s Investors Service in July, the construction of a gas pipeline running from Turkmenistan to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China was the major project where Chinese investment poured into Central Asia. The pipeline comprises three parallel lines, each running for over 1,800 kilometers.
Many of the countries covered by the 65-nation “Belt and Road” initiative are all in desperate need of infrastructure construction. Asian Development Bank put the cost of the continent’s total infrastructure requirements at more than $8 trillion over 10 years.
Meanwhile, HSBC Global Research found that infrastructure construction under the “Belt and Road” called for the application of higher technical standards, green and low carbon construction and operation management.
Daniel Cheng, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, believes this would open up more opportunities for Hong Kong’s environmental industry, given the increased awareness in the region of risks to the environment.
“Our technology such as material science can help develop lighter trains, better airport design and smarter cities,” said Cheng. “For instance, in areas where there is a lot of sunshine, we can install solar panels for the infrastructure.”
Cheng believes many countries and regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were on the fast track to developing their economies, while being fully aware that they should reduce the impact on the environment.
“The pattern of ‘pollute first, fix later’ is not going to work in Southeast Asia,” said Cheng. “Because they know that every time they fix it later it will cost them a hundred times more.”
The fact that “Belt and Road” economies are paying more attention to their living environment could open up opportunities and speed up the adoption of solutions developed by Hong Kong entrepreneurs that address global problems.
A case in point is the robotic, artificial intelligence-based system with sensors designed by Insight Robotics Ltd. It looks like an ordinary surveillance camera but can spot a wildfire as small as two square meters across and transmit an alarm to authorities within half a second.
“The groundwork has been laid for the Insight Robotics Wildfire Detection System in Southeast Asia,” said Kevin Chan, CEO and co-founder of Insight Robotics.
He explained that their business strategies focus on this region because it has some of the world’s most concentrated high-value plantation and planned forest areas, which are highly exposed to fast-spreading threats such as fire and genetic plant disease.
Chan said a feasibility study and computer simulation program had been set up in Indonesia, which is being evaluated with a view toward wider deployment. For long-term development in the region, Insight Robotics has set up regional offices, including one in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, with local management and regional sales personnel.
“The ‘Belt and Road’ initiative will need a lot of talents with English proficiency and also rich experience in doing business with overseas companies,” said Zhao Lei, CEO of HKfanr, a Hong Kong based e-commerce startup with a focus on cross-border trading.
He believes that with “Belt and Road” economies achieving more prosperity, their purchasing power will also increase, thus providing potential business opportunities for Hong Kong youth who want to establish e-commerce businesses in these countries.
“Hong Kong has accumulated much experience in trading and finance and it will contribute a lot if the young entrepreneurs want to explore the market in the ‘Belt and Road’ regions,” Zhao added.
“In the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative,