Where Does Hong Kong Fit in Beijing’s new Silk Road?

Excerpt from: American Journal of Transportation | By: Ken Gangwani | December 18, 2015

Is China’s “Silk Road” initiative a super highway or a dead end for Hong Kong’s future economy?

China’s One Belt, One Road policy holds immense promise of benefits for many countries, including Hong Kong, although there are bound to be many complex challenges before it takes off, said George Yeo, chairman and executive director of Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics Network.

china_portsDescribing the campaign as a movement that will bring about a “complete reopening-up of Eurasia”, Yeo said the driver of the plan lies in the billions who are currently unable to tap the global market because of bad connections and logistics.

One Belt, One Road is Beijing’s push to drive cooperation among countries in Eurasia along the ancient Silk Road trading route to form a cohesive economic area. A similar programme for a 21st century Maritime Silk Road aims to boost collaboration in Southeast Asia, North Africa and Oceania.

“One Belt, One Road will be creating a huge flow, at the end of which we are going to find Eurasia crisscrossed by connections,” said Yeo. “It is like angiogenesis in the human body. First you grow the vessels, then logistics companies like mine will provide the blood circulation, and development follows.’’

“I think it will mean a second wave of growth for Southeast Asia due to the opening up of so many transport links and increasing integration with China,” Yeo said at the recent ALMC conference in Hong Kong organized by the Trade Development Council (TDC).

Kerry Logistics is continuing to build its regional express network with plans to have a pan-ASEAN network in the next 18-24 months.

Eric Ip, group managing director of Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), told the same conference the initiative will spur investment in intermodal and port infrastructure projects and motivate companies to explore opportunities in new markets. HPH, which has operations in 56 ports in 26 countries, has 19 operations along the Belt and Road routes, including deep sea, shallow and inland ports.

“Certainly there are risks,’’ said Ip. “We invested in Myanmar and had to wait 20 years before anything happened. Excluding China and Europe, the countries along the routes account for just 13% of global imports and 14% of global exports. This is a big opportunity.”