HK youth looking to mainland

Updated 2017-08-24 09:33:30 Global Times

Policy support, business conditions attract start-ups

More and more young entrepreneurs from Hong Kong are coming to the Chinese mainland to start businesses, taking advantage of vigorous support from the central government and improving conditions for businesses.

Under the "Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship" national initiative and various local policy programs, the mainland offers a promising environment for start-ups and great prospects for Hong Kong's youth, according to several entrepreneurs who have started their businesses in the mainland.

In interviews with the Global Times on Wednesday, the entrepreneurs drew a very different picture of the attitude among young Hong Kong people toward the mainland from that portrayed by some media reports.

After three student activists were jailed by a Hong Kong court for storming government headquarters during an illegal protest in 2014, some foreign media outlets carried reports suggesting that the court's decision would crush the confidence of Hong Kong's next generations in the Chinese mainland.

Experts on Wednesday rebutted such claims by pointing to the increasing number of young Hong Kong people coming to the mainland for business opportunities.

"Faith in the Chinese mainland among young Hong Kong people has increased in recent years, as reflected by the large number of them moving to [South China's] Guangdong Province to start a business," Li Jin, chief researcher with the China Enterprise Research Institute, told the Global Times Wednesday.

Li further noted that the Hong Kong court's decision to jail the trio was in line with relevant laws on the island.

Great environment

Young Hong Kong entrepreneurs also spoke of abundant opportunities in the mainland.

Henry Yau, a Hong Kong resident in his mid-30s who founded intelligent lighting company Delight Power Products in Qianhai Dream Factory in Shenzhen, Guangdong, said he came to the mainland because of the better business climate here.

"One of the reasons that prompted me to [set up a company in] the Chinese mainland three months ago is the abundant supply of talent here, especially the fresh graduates from well-known universities who are diligent and fast-learners," Yau told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Yau said that under the government's "Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship" initiative, the mainland has given birth to a culture of entrepreneurship, with dynamic business incubators such as Qianhai Dream Factory not only providing one-year rental-free working space but also professional and efficient teams to help with consulting and financing.

"It's like Silicon Valley in the U.S.," Yau remarked.

This is in contrast to the norm in Hong Kong, where young people are encouraged to pursue a stable career rather than taking the risk of starting up a business, said Lo Kwun Yu, Hong Kong founder of Guangzhou-based Yangsan Cultural Communication Company. The three-year-old start-up secured Series A funding of 6 million yuan (0,218) in August.

Chau Ting Han, a 30-something Hong Kong resident who set up Shenzhen-based intelligent storage-maker Jingrui Technology in April, echoed Yau's sentiments. He noted that another attraction is the local government's tax incentives for high-tech start-ups.

"My company only needs to pay tax of around 15 to 17 percent of earnings, while the tax rate can be as high as 23 percent in Hong Kong," Chau told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Bright prospects

The market in the Chinese mainland is also lucrative, given that demand for high-tech and cultural products has been booming in recent years, Lo, aged 27, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "The Hong Kong market is too small to generate sustainable profits for local start-ups."

The three entrepreneurs added that the labor and land costs for starting up a business in the mainland are lower than in Hong Kong.

"If I rent the same office in Hong Kong's CBD, the expenses would skyrocket by about 10 times," Lo said.

The three Hong Kong entrepreneurs are planning to hire more employees and expand their businesses in the mainland in the near future. For example, Yau predicted that his company will be able to make a profit by the end of 2017, while Chau said that his company would seek an IPO on mainland bourses around 2019.

But mainland authorities could still do more to further their efforts in supporting the growth of young Hong Kong entrepreneurs' start-ups, experts suggested.

The entrepreneurs called for consistent policy support and simplified procedures for business registration.

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