Where the real growth is
We reviewed the middle line (San Tin Technopole-Kwu Tung North Development Area-Lo Wu/Man Kam To Comprehensive Development Node) and the west line (Yuen Long-Tin Shui Wai) of the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy. We found that development along the middle line would provide up to 148,000 high-tech jobs and up to 147,000 residential units, with up to 8,000 high-tech jobs and 70,000 residential units along the west line.
On further examination, we note that the area along the middle line which is centered on finance, real estate and professional services may therefore have high housing prices, which is not beneficial to incubating emerging high-tech companies. New residents in this zone will likely be from the high-end service industries along the core Lok Ma Chau-Tsimshatsui-Central line. We recognize the importance of the middle-line plan, which will promote the coordinated development of Shenzhen and Hong Kong in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. But to maintain social stability and sustainable development in Hong Kong, it should not continue to be constrained by limited capital and human resources flowing to the high-end service industries (about 1.6 million people in total), but should be provide new opportunities for the other 1.7 million people from the mid-to-lower-end service industries by creating high-tech or new manufacturing jobs for them.
A talent structure not conducive to technological innovation
In the 2022 Asia Smart City Ranking recently published by Harbor Overseas, Hong Kong and Macau unexpectedly failed to perform well. Compared with Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau are significantly behind in building a data factory market and drawing in citizens to participate in new data-driven sectors such as the sharing economy. This is evident in the gap between Hong Kong and the mainland in the everyday use of mobile apps and services, including digital payments.
A large number of the policy recommendations for Hong Kong and indeed the mainland to spur new growth are predicated on science and technology innovation, but half of Hong Kong's talent are in finance or the high-end services sectors, while the other half are mainly in trade, consumption, logistics and construction. By dint of that skills structure and capacity, Hong Kong seems to be unready for technology innovation.