In 2013, the Chinese central government launched the "One-Belt-One-Road" (OBOR) strategy, which refers to the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt, which links China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which connects China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa, and Europe.
The objectives of the OBOR strategy are to promote economic prosperity of the countries along the belt and road and regional economic cooperation, to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations, and to promote world peace and development. The strategy also underlines the government's push to export China's technologies and production capacity in industries such as building materials (steel and cement), electronics, infrastructure (highways and high-speed trains), and logistics (ports and airports).
As a country’s infrastructure plays a vital role in attracting and facilitating business operations, it is critical to find solutions to further develop infrastructures and promote collaborations among many of the countries along the two new Silk Roads. For example, governments may have limited resources and capacity to build and manage all the infrastructure projects on their own, especially with the recent slowdown in the global economy and worsening public finances in many developing countries. The private sectors have much of the needed resources and expertise. A Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) offers an alternative solution, and is jointly funded and operated through a partnership of government and a private enterprise so as to jointly develop infrastructures such as rails and roads.
Hong Kong is uniquely situated with a great deal of expertise and resources that can help realize the objectives of the OBOR initiative. For instance, as a world financial centre, Hong Kong’s well-developed markets in both equity and debt financing can provide the financial support needed for the vast investments. Secondly, the internationally-oriented labor force can be mobilized to help Chinese firms going abroad. Financial and legal services in a hosting country will be imperative to the establishment and operations of a successful enterprise. In addition, cultural differences and diversity in religions all call for careful research and training. Thirdly, there have been many successful PPPs in the past undertaken by Hong Kong-based companies, such as Hopewell Holdings Ltd. It would be of tremendous help to companies contemplating entry to foreign countries if relevant best practices can be delineated from the many cases of success and failure in the past.
City University of Hong Kong (CityU), together with Tsinghua University, has come to an agreement with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to establish the International PPP Specialist Centre of Excellence for Public Transport Logistics, which is going to be formalized by signing of a memorandum of understanding. The Research Centre on OBOR and the PPP Specialist Centre will therefore strongly complement with each other.