Published: 10:06, November 9, 2023 | Updated: 10:06, November 9, 2023
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Hong Kong ideal interface to foster stronger China-US ties
By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong

James Chau, president of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, shares his insights on how to enhance Sino-US relations during an interview with China Daily on Nov 7, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong can help bridge cultures and provide global influence, as its history, location, and demographic makeup allow the city and its people to play the role of “connector” in a unique and authentic way, said James Chau, president of the China-United States Exchange Foundation.

Chau affirmed that Hong Kong’s status as a global city and international commerce hub, bolstered by the principle of “one country, two systems”, positions it as an ideal interface for fostering stronger ties between China and the United States.

“The people of Hong Kong also add a great amount of value to the bilateral relationship. Throughout history, they’ve been able to quickly adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, and can apply that to what they see,” Chau said. 

Chau made his remarks during a one-on-one interview with China Daily on Tuesday, two days before the Hong Kong Forum on US-China Relations kicks off and shortly ahead of the much-anticipated Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. 

The two-day Hong Kong Forum on US-China Relations, which begins today, is being held by the CUSEF.

This year’s forum aims to promote an inclusive approach to finding solutions and enhancing mutual understanding.

The forum will focus on areas that include trade and the economy, international finance, people-to-people exchanges, science and technology, and global challenges, as well as geopolitics and international security, and the future of Hong Kong.

International dignitaries participating in the forum include Xie Feng, China’s ambassador to the US; Nicholas Burns, US ambassador to China; and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jose Ramos-Horta and Muhammad Yunus.

Having a platform on which leaders from around the world can gather is crucial, as it provides opportunities to explore not only ideas and solutions through bilateral interactions, but also to find moral leadership on how to influence Sino-US relations, Chau said.

The Hong Kong forum should serve as a bridge builder, creating opportunities for dialogue involving a wide range of voices, ensuring inclusivity and fostering understanding, he added.

As Chau pointed out, the CUSEF has Hong Kong roots, and Tung Chee-hwa, a vice-chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s first chief executive, is its chairman emeritus. He said that Hong Kong holds a special place in the hearts of many people, whether they reside in the city or not, and serves as a significant touchpoint, connecting people from various generations across the globe.

Chau said Hong Kong residents make an invaluable contribution to the bilateral relationship between China and the US. Drawing from their historical sense of resilience and adaptability, Hong Kong residents possess a unique perspective that can be leveraged to shape a better future.

As the newly appointed president of the CUSEF and a UN goodwill ambassador, Chau expressed his commitment to nurturing global young leaders through initiatives like the CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship, introduced by the foundation in October. 

He took note of the remarkable contributions made by young leaders worldwide in addressing pressing global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, social inequality, and wealth disparities.

He believes that fostering such diversity enhances the quality of talent and strengthens the prospects for meaningful dialogue.

Chau said that the CUSEF serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas, and refrains from taking positions on specific policies or legislation. He said he places great emphasis on the critical importance of dialogue, particularly in times of disagreement or when there are challenges, as it fosters understanding and paves the way for solutions.

Established in Hong Kong in 2008, the CUSEF aims to build a constructive platform for dialogue and diverse exchanges between the people of China and the US. 

Chau stressed that the foundation’s central position — acting as a bridge between the two nations and different generations — has made it possible for the two sides to forge trust, exchange ideas, and develop greater understanding over the past 15 years.

Looking ahead, he revealed plans to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-US diplomatic ties next year.

A series of programs will be introduced to acknowledge the foundation’s expansion into areas like climate change, public health, and cultural exchanges, Chau added.

“Sometimes I think we focus too much on the 5 percent of what the US and China don’t agree on, versus the 95 percent of their shared challenges, shared opportunities and commonalities. It’s not just climate change and the fight against poverty,” Chau said. 

Effective communication plays a crucial role, Chau said, adding that he believes it to be the linchpin supporting dialogue and progress, based on his own extensive experience of working in the media industry.

lindaxi@chinadailyhk.com