HKU president: Heed national call of duty, grasp opportunities
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) will make greater contributions to the country and leverage opportunities brought by national policies to march toward a brighter future, HKU President Zhang Xiang told Xinhua in an interview.
Zhang envisions HKU's instrumental role in China's development over the next 50 years and beyond, given the institution's strength in basic research and original innovation as well as its pole position in sci-tech exchanges between China and the rest of the world.
The 2021 policy address, by Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam on Oct. 6, unveiled new measures to consolidate Hong Kong's leading position in basic research, reserving a 4-hectare site currently zoned "Green Belt" at Pokfulam for the HKU to construct facilities for deep technology research.
Zhang said the HKU plans to use this land to build an open international laboratory as a strong original innovation base, which is expected to contribute to the prowess of Hong Kong and the country in areas of global concern such as climate change and public health.
"As a world-class school, we have the responsibility and confidence to contribute to the country's scientific and technological innovation and development," said Zhang, a renowned expert in nano engineering.
With the advantages of "one country, two systems," the highly international academic environment of the HKU will help attract top scientists from the world, and drive basic research for original innovations in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, thereby promoting the country's long-term economic and technological development, he noted.
He said the HKU has accumulated more than 100 years of experience in scientific research management, and its experience can be brought to other cities in the Greater Bay Area as a boon to the country's scientific and technological reforms.
On Oct. 3, Zhang won a five-year extension of his term and will stay in office until 2028. The HKU's council highlighted Zhang's contribution in advancing a slew of trail-blazing strategic projects, including establishing the HKU's Shenzhen branch and recruiting top-tier professors around the globe that made the HKU a world-class educational institution.
"The construction of the Greater Bay Area provides a big stage, just like putting wings on the University of Hong Kong, so the university can better contribute to the country's development," Zhang said.
With the establishment of the Shenzhen branch, Zhang expects to bring Hong Kong's competitive educational resources and basic research to other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, so as to promote sci-tech and economic integration in the area.
The construction of the Shenzhen campus can also promote youth exchanges between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, allowing Hong Kong students to carry out internships at companies in Shenzhen, and further enhance their understanding of the country, he said.
Looking into the future of the HKU, Zhang has a clear vision. "Under 'one country, two systems,' the HKU is not only an international university."
"Elevating the HKU to a higher academic level is not only of great significance to the university itself, but also to Hong Kong and the country," said Zhang.