Hong Kong as a Knowledge Capital

When I first encountered this term ‘knowledge capital’ a few months back I had no idea what it meant. That was part of the ‘Knowledge Cities’ conference held in Shenzhen, China in November, see my post about Future Centres. I didn’t attend that conference but I did catch Jay Chatzkel seminar on 9 November, “Hong Kong as a Knowledge Capital”. Knowledge Cities are cities that deliberately go about making themselves sustainable based on what they know and how they use what they know. An example of a knowledge capital was Lisbon in the 15th century when it became the centre for exploration and eventually the establishment of the Portuguese mercantile empire. Knowledge on what was out there beyond the horizon made that empire possible. It seems to me that a knowledge city needs to have a vision, purpose, education and goals. Jay Chatzkel was very impressed with what he had seen in Shenzhen and learned about other cities in China which visibly made the Hong Kong audience cringe in their soft chairs in a wood-paneled tiered lecture hall. This was Jay’s first trip to China and Hong Kong (same country different place) and he didn’t understand that here in Hong Kong praise for China is very seldom given. He went on to propose that Hong Kong needed to integrate itself more and more with China if it was going to succeed. Take a look at his website here.

This point has been made many time before by others. There are massive infrastructure projects to link Hong Kong and the Perl River Delta; from bridge to Macau and Zhuhai to electronic smart ID cards to make for fast access between Hong Kong and the mainland. I suspect many outside Hong Kong don’t know that the border with Hong Kong is still very real and mainland Chinese need visas to enter and remain in the city.

Maintaining a separate Hong Kong is still the order of the day. This is partly because we must maintain our British inherited legal system. This legal system makes Hong Kong unique among Chinese cities as a place where a business contract can be adjudicated in a court with a very good chance of non-interference from government interests. However, the main reason to maintain a separate Hong Kong is that Hong Kong people don’t like mainlanders. They like them enough to take their money when they come for shopping and visiting the much maligned Disneyland but not enough to remember that almost everyone in Hong Kong is a refugee from China, myself included. It is a very strange state of affairs. It is the most extreme example of city-folk not liking country-folk that I’ve ever seen.

I’m still not sure exactly what one of these ‘knowledge cities’ is but it seems that Hong Kong is failing in many respects. It lacks leadership – this is not surprising for those of us who live here and know our Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his team of toads, sorry Executive Councillors, – it lacks a coherent education systems – it is laying off primary school teachers so class sizes remain around 40 and at the same time has a new program to spend 100’s of millions of HK$ to support foreign (read not mainland Chinese because rumor is that mainland Chinese are not eligible for this program) PhD students studying in Hong Kong universities. This is part of the problem of Hong Kong – it only sees itself in relation to something outside of China and preferably something European. Twelve years after the handover and Hong Kong is still an outpost of northern Europe perched on the coast of southeast China.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Filed under Knowledge management This is related to my earlier post on knowledge cities, see here. The Hong Kong Census & Statistics Bureau has published this paper on Hong Kong as a […]

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