A Global Think-Tank in Asia for the 21st Century
We are honoured to welcome you all to the inaugural Asia-Global Dialogue, the annual forum of the Fung Global Institute. Some of you have travelled far to get here while some are based in Hong Kong and from around the region. Some of you are already friends of the Fung Global Institute and many of you, we hope, will become friends in time. We extend to you our warmest welcome.
The Fung Global Institute is a global economic think-tank based in Hong Kong. Although this is a new institution, having been established only last August, the concept has been many years in planning. It has been an exciting journey for those of us who have worked to make the concept a reality. It has been especially exciting for my brother, William, and me as we have been planning this for years. The launching of the inaugural Asia-Global Dialogue is a milestone in this journey, and we are pleased to have you with us today.
The mission for the Fung Global Institute is to generate disseminate and innovate thinking and business-relevant research on critical global issues from Asian perspectives. We always use the word “perspectives”, in the plural, as we do not believe there is one single Asian perspective but many diverse Asian perspectives.
I would like to share with you today three core beliefs that lie behind this mission statement, our vision for the Fung Global Institute and how the Asia-Global Dialogue fit into the overall scheme.
Firstly, we believe that the best form of corporate responsibility is to contribute to the dialogue with the state and civil society on how to achieve good jobs, good profits, social justice and environmental sustainability without having to always rely on fiscal or monetary means. The recent crisis experience has demonstrated that there are limits to the role of the state due to fiscal debt overhang as well as outdated governance at global and local levels.
As drivers of innovation, markets and job creation, the corporate sector has a unique and major role to play to help address the unprecedented challenges of our time such as the rebalancing of the global economy, inclusive growth and climate change. We have established the Fung Global Institute as an independent non-political research and learning organisation dedicated to greater discourse, engagement and exploration of ideas within Asia and at the global level. And we are grateful that several like-minded families and corporations from Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Malaysia and Thailand have become Founding Sponsors of the Institute.
Secondly, we believe that multilateral trade and investments remain the engines of global growth and prosperity. As we know, Asia has been a major beneficiary of this multilateral system. The Institute aims to work towards global cooperative solutions to generate growth and employment around the world. Without global cooperation, we will not be able to bring the necessary brainpower and resources to address the complex challenges facing the global economy today.
Note that there has been a sea change in the structure of global production in the last few decades due to deepening specialisation, expanding markets, rising complexity, and breakthrough innovations. We can summarise today’s as well as tomorrow’s global production conditions in one phrase: “made in the world”. Hong Kong is a living example of that. I can tell you that most of the goods and services that are sold, channeled, and financed through Hong Kong are made in the world, usually for the world markets. We consider Hong Kong to be the ideal place to locate the Fung Global Institute with its entrepreneurial spirit of free trade, free speech and rule of law.
Thirdly, we believe that if our generation does not act, and act quickly, there could well be a clash of civilisations of epic proportions. Asia is a melting pot of many civilisations, emerging into a new, some say, Third Industrial Revolution. The situation is fluid and requires careful handling, with great tolerance and understanding. Our generation has the responsibility to ensure that what lies ahead will become a celebration of civilisations, where there will be a virtuous race to the top of sustained global prosperity, and not a race to the bottom of armed conflicts. The Fung Global Institute is dedicated to the future of our children and grandchildren, so that they will enjoy a better life, better environment and better future.
To put it simply, the Fung Global Institute is not about Asia becoming the dominant economic power in the new world order. It is really about working together, sharing and communicating – what we are doing right here today – to explore the 21st century as a Global Century where Asia is fully engaged.
Generating real world research is the core of what we do at the Fung Global Institute. For us this is not merely about being commissioned to undertake research projects and producing reports. It is more about engaging with business leaders and other stakeholders in an interactive cycle of learning on our four areas of interest. They are: global supply chains, finance in Asia, growth models in China and India, and Asia’s sustainable development. You will hear more about our research projects tomorrow. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the business organisations that have already committed to engage with us as our research and learning partners.
In establishing the Institute, I have had the good fortune to benefit from such distinguished collaborators as Andrew Sheng, President of the Institute, Michael Spence and Nicholas Stern, Chairman and member respectively of the Institute’s Academic Board, and Liu Mingkang, the first Distinguished Fellow of the Institute.
In addition to our network of individual experts, we have established strategic institutional partnerships with a number of universities and think tanks. In Asia, they are the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Business and Economics with whom we are co-located at the Cyberport campus, the Indian Council for Research and International Economic Relations, and Peking University HSBC Business School. Internationally, our partners are Harvard University Asia Center and MIT Sloan School of Management in the USA, and IMD in Europe.
Looking ahead, we would like the Fung Global Institute to be the recognised source of Asian views and ideas on key global issues. We see the Institute as giving business leaders, policymakers and civil society perspectives and tools to navigate through this era of global transformation. In addition to building our global network of experts, we will provide a global platform for younger Asian thought leaders with fresh views. We think technology will be critical to our development and success, so we are beginning to experiment with various online tools and technologies appropriate for a 21st century think-tank. I hope you will enjoy some of these tools at this forum.
For this inaugural forum, we have arranged a distinguished line-up of international speakers and panelists to address the theme, “Towards a new global economy: Re-defining Asia’s role”. Spanning two-and-half intensive days, the forum includes plenary sessions - taking place today, parallel track discussions within the wider framework of our four research areas - taking place tomorrow, and additional sessions in Shenzhen the following day where we will be joined by some 500 local participants. There will also be other talks and many opportunities to network. We acknowledge and thank those organisations that partner with us to sponsor this forum.
We see our annual forum as a platform for dialogue, and we encourage interaction for a lively and mutually-beneficial exchange of views. We look to all of you to help us frame the key challenges, identify issues of common concern and prioritise what needs to be done. Together we will map out the role for business in Asia in shaping the new global economy.
In closing, let me just say that I personally have looked forward to this day for quite a few years. We thank you for taking the time to join us. We hope you will find the discussions challenging, stimulating, and rewarding and in turn, you will share with us your own views and perspectives. We look forward to our dialogue. Thank you.