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Deputy Mayor Mr. XU , Mr. (Sunny) LEE, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! It is my pleasure to join you today for the Joint International Computer Conference 2008.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the Guangzhou Municipal People's Government and the Hong Kong Computer Society for successfully organising the 13th Joint International Computer Conferences 2008. This event has provided a useful platform for Hong Kong IT professionals and enterprises to exchange views and foster cooperation with their counterparts in the Mainland.

I believe that such conferences are valuable in fostering better understanding, providing networking opportunities and helping business to grow. In times of economic crisis such as we are experiencing today, these opportunities are even more important. It is essential that we seize the moment and plan for the future. Today's conference provides a welcome and timely opportunity. I urge you all to take advantage of this.

The theme of this year's Conference is "Regional Collaboration with Unlimited Potential". A theme which we in the Hong Kong SAR Government fully support through our Digital 21 Strategy. One of the key objectives is "Developing Hong Kong as a Hub for Technological Cooperation and Trade".

To foster collaboration and to provide a conduit for the industries in the HKSAR and the Mainland, we have established channels for cooperation with Guangdong Province and relevant Mainland authorities in areas such as innovation, technological development and informatisation. The two Governments have established the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Expert Group on Cooperation in Innovation and Technology", as one of the working groups under the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation Joint Conference", to promote technology cooperation and exchanges.

To encourage more collaboration between universities, research institutions and enterprises in Guangdong and Hong Kong particularly in the field of applied R&D projects, the two governments launched the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Cooperation Funding Scheme" (TCFS) in September 2004. In 2008, more than 80 applications have been received under this Scheme.

This cooperation goes well beyond the provincial level, for example, in May this year, Hong Kong Productivity Council, the Guangzhou Software Development Centre and the Guangzhou Internet Association signed a Letter of Intent on Information Service Cooperation between Guangzhou and Hong Kong to further promote the development of eight areas of information service in the two places. Already there is good progress in the areas of logistics and software outsourcing.

In May 2007, we signed a cooperation agreement with the Shenzhen Municipal Government which aims to enhance exchanges in expertise, information and resources in innovation and technology services, with a view to establishing the "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle" zone. In May this year, the first major product arising from this agreement was delivered with the announcement of the decision to establish a Solar Energy Research and Industrial Platform in collaboration with DuPont, an internationally known chemical and new materials company. Under the project, a Solar Energy R&D Support Centre will be established at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park to assist the development of solar energy and related technologies in Hong Kong and the PRD region. DuPont will join the centre as the first tenant by locating its Global Thin Film Photovoltaic Business and R&D Centre in the Park. At the same time, the Shenzhen Municipal Government will collaborate with Hong Kong to provide land and other facilities to support the downstream development and manufacturing of solar energy products.

Another area of collaboration is on RFID technology. The "Chancheng People's Government of Foshan City" (in Chinese: 佛 山 禪 城 區 政 府) and "GS1 Hong Kong" (in Chinese: 香 港 貨 品 編 碼 協 會) signed the "Guangdong-Hong Kong RFID Industry Cooperation Memorandum" (in Chinese: 粵 港 RFID 產 業 合 作 協 議) on 28 June 2007. This cooperation should result in acceleration of the adoption of RFID technology between Guangdong and Hong Kong. The "Foshan RFID Demonstration Centre" (in Chinese: 佛 山 RFID 演 示 中 心) was subsequently established on 2 August 2008. The centre is also the first RFID application demonstration centre (in Chinese: 國 內 首 個 RFID 應 用 示 範 中 心) in the Mainland of China.

The Autotoll Limited ("Autotoll", "快 易 通 有 限 公 司") and the Guangdong Unitoll Collection Inc. ("Unitoll", "廣 東 聯 合 電 子 收 費 股 份 有 限 公 司") collaborated to launch the "Autotoll-Unitoll Card" (快 易 通 - 粵 通 卡) in end 2006. The card enables cross-border motorists to use Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) service on all major highways and most toll roads in Guangdong Province. Toll fees will be deducted directly from their Autotoll accounts, providing convenience and enhancing efficiency in logistics and transport services in both Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.

To facilitate the development of e-commerce, the HKSAR Government enacted the Electronic Transactions Ordinance in 2000 to establish a clear legal framework for the conduct of secure electronic transactions and spearhead the development of a public key infrastructure in Hong Kong. Currently, the digital certificate is one of the common types of two-factor authentication being adopted by banks in Hong Kong for Internet banking transactions.

Under the Supplement V to CEPA signed in July 2008, the Mainland agrees to further strengthen cooperation in the area of electronic commerce by taking forward a pilot-run of applications using digital certificates issued by Guangdong and Hong Kong. This has enormous potential to facilitate the cross-border e-commerce between the two places.

To develop Hong Kong as a world leading digital city, the Government will continue its commitment to support technology and innovation and provide a flourishing environment for business development for the ICT industry. However, we cannot do this alone without the support of the industry and closer ties with our neighbours such as Guangdong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. We will continue to encourage our ICT industry players, IT professionals and academics to cooperate with their counterparts on the Mainland to strive for a "digital future" for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta with a view to enriching our quality of life and enhancing economic growth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you are eager to hear from our distinguished speakers and learn more about the opportunities in the region and latest trends in IT innovations. So I will end with one of my favourite quotes from Eric Hoffer, which I think has a strong message for us today : He wrote : "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." May I wish you all a very rewarding learning experience in this year's Conference!