Globalization, Change and Policy in Asia and Europe
Edited by Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen
6. From trade hub to innovation hub: Hong Kong Naubahar Sharif and Erik Baark 1 INTRODUCTION In recent years Hong Kong has gone some way towards regaining its traditional position as the key transit point for exchange of both goods and services between China and the international economy. Sophisticated and reliable intermediary services occupy a key role in maintaining this status, and Hong Kong’s future apparently turns on the capacity of its intermediaries to maintain a considerable share of business within Asia and between it and the global economy (Meyer, 2000, p. 247). As a trade hub linking China with global markets, Hong Kong’s position in Asia has been unrivalled. Hitherto, technological innovation in Hong Kong has however not been regarded as an important element of Hong Kong’s developmental experience, and the few studies that have addressed the issue have emphasized the laissez-faire policies that have characterized the industrialization process in Hong Kong (e.g. Hobday, 1995). Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs have been adept at exploiting available technology from the international market, but they have not generally carried out R&D for the purposes of creating proprietary technology on their own (Davies, 1999). For this reason, technological innovation has only recently begun to attract serious attention in Hong Kong, where the government in 1998 launched a new strategy in pursuit of knowledge-intensive economic growth. Our point of departure for this report is that the transition to a new position as an innovation hub for China presents new challenges for its national system...
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