Hong Kong ‘ideal’ to be global maritime arbitration hub: Official

Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, said the SAR can offer support by cultivating talents familiar with common law and international maritime law.

Xi Tianqi, William Xu, and Stephy Zhang

Xi Tianqi, William Xu, and Stephy Zhang

China Daily


Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region deputy to the nation’s top legislature, poses for a photo during an interview with China Daily on the sidelines of the two sessions in Beijing, China, March 6, 2024 . PHOTO: CHINA DAILY

March 11, 2024

BEIJING, HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is well equipped to help the nation meet its growing needs for legal services in the maritime sector arising from the expanding shipping and trade business.

The remarks were made by Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung — a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, and head of the Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization.

He said this shows the importance of maritime law and arbitration in his motions submitted to the current annual session of the nation’s top legislature, which began in Beijing on March 5. The success of the United Kingdom’s world-acclaimed international commercial law can be partially attributed to its dealing with maritime affairs, he said.

China — the world’s largest trading country – is facing greater-than-ever demand for maritime legal affairs that would need a sound maritime legal system to address, said Chan.

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China is now the world’s largest ship-manufacturer, accounting for more than 40 percent of the ocean-going vessels built annually for 13 years. According to official data, the mainland’s shipbuilding industry continued to lead globally by the end of 2022, with the biggest market share in terms of output and orders. The nation also owns the world’s largest merchant fleet in terms of gross tonnage.

In his proposals submitted to the NPC, Chan called for the nation to be developed into a hub for international maritime arbitration, and Shanghai and Hong Kong can be best suited to build the relevant legal institutions and accommodate legal talents. He cites the SAR’s role in building an arbitration framework that’s transparent and in line with international rules.

Chan said Hong Kong, as the only place in the country practicing common law, can offer strong support for the nation’s shipping sector by cultivating more talents who’re familiar with common law and international maritime law. Hong Kong also has excellent education resources and scientific research capabilities, with five of its universities among the world’s top 100 tertiary educational institutions.

As the region aims to further develop itself into an education hub, Chan said he has proposed Hong Kong hosting more international and national tertiary education forums that can help the world understand the city’s educational strengths.

READ MORE: Stronger GBA ties seen boosting HK’s status as maritime hub

By publishing documents, revealing the results of research, and by exchanging experiences, Hong Kong and the nation could scale new heights in education and scientific research, he said.

He further suggested that Hong Kong’s self-funded universities be allowed to recruit more students from the mainland, noting the trend of more mainland students showing interest in studying in Hong Kong.

Other proposals he has submitted include further facilitating visits between Hong Kong and mainland residents, promoting the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel, and making Hong Kong an international data exchange and trading center for generative artificial intelligence tools.

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