Hong Kong did not have a clear position and long-term strategies and policies for its cultural development before its return to China in 1997, Zhang Xingang, chairman of Hong Kong Culture and Heritage Commission, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government is keen on cultural development and the most fundamental and important step the government has taken in the past five years is the establishment of Hong Kong Culture and Heritage Commission in the year 2000, Zhang said.
The commission is a high-level advisory body responsible for advising the government on the policies and funding priorities on culture and the arts.
Zhang said, the commission has put clear that Hong Kong's culture is positioned as "Roots in China, Integration of East and West."
"Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and the culture of Hong Kong roots in the long tradition of Chinese culture," he said, adding that this concept has been widely accepted by the Hong Kong people in these years.
Since Hong Kong's return to China, there have been many more cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland and more and more Hong Kong people have become interested in learning Chinese culture, he said.
Meanwhile, Zhang noted that Hong Kong, as a modern international city, has the responsibility and ability to provide new momentum for the development of Chinese culture.
"Hong Kong is the city where east meets the west. It can play a significant role in the promotion of cultural exchange and integration of cultures," he said.
Zhang Xingang, 62, was a doctor in biomedical engineering who was educated in the United States.
However, he was invited by Chief Executive of the HKSAR Tung Chee Hwa to be the commission's leader.
Zhang himself is very interested in culture and arts. When he came to Hong Kong in 1990 upon invitation of the newly-established Hong Kong Science and Technology University, he began to write articles on cultural identity and study of university students.
Later when he was appointed dean of Hong Kong City University, he was called "Cultural Dean" by Hong Kong media for his outstanding effort on Chinese cultural education in the campus.
"My technological background has given me a deeper understanding about the relations of economic, technological and cultural development," Zhang said.
He said, "In this time of knowledge-based economy, cultural development is a basic factor to upgrade economies and creativity."
The commission advised the government in its first consultation paper issued in March 2001 that the government should take cultural development as an important consideration in formulating policies and enacting legislation in the fields such as education, urban planning, tourism, creative industries, and trade and economic development, he added.
"Actually I am a doctor in medical engineering," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2002)