Talent, energy vital for sustainable development

Allen Zhuang

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Professor Way Kuo, President of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), was invited to give an address on the topic of “Revitalisation of China and Sustainable Development” at the Third Forum on Future Development of China held by the Hong Kong Pei Hua Education Foundation on 16 October.
The Forum aimed to explore the outlook for China in its development of science and technology, economy, social progress, culture and education.
Talent and energy must be emphasised if we want to ensure sustainable development for China, Professor Kuo pointed out. He saw an interesting parallel between our times and the Warring States Period (475—221 BC) in ancient China, as both witnessed the migration of talented people and the need to attract talent. Hong Kong was doing well in this regard while there was still room for improvement in mainland China, he added.   
To be a highly talented person, the first and foremost qualities required were a vigorous pursuit of globalisation, modernisation with a strong sense of the changing times, and the spirit of “addressing the issue” with judgements made based on facts, Professor Kuo explained.
Some people presume that globalisation means merely speaking English well whereas the focus should be on the content of the message, Professor Kuo said, adding that talent was only valuable if it were used to innovate and create.  
Professor Kuo said mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong adhered to governance that values the ideal that “the talent of people must be best employed, the benefits of the land best utilised, the resources best used, and goods and products best circulated”. Therefore, energy resources are vital for success, in addition to talent.
In this regard, Professor Kuo said we had to balance three fundamental points about energy—its necessity (it is no luxury any more), its reliability (its supply must be reliable and hence sustainable), and its impact on the quality of life. Essentially, modern society cannot survive without energy, and reliability is needed because society and human activities are becoming increasingly more complex. Greater complexity leads to less reliability, and hence lower sustainability. This is why reliability deserves intense amounts of future research.
Professor Kuo cited some figures to illustrate the impact of energy on the quality of life. Coal currently accounts for about 70% of the world's total energy consumption, and last year in China alone the deaths of 5,000 coalminers were directly attributable to mining accidents, while globally the figure is 100,000 per year. Yet we often see people protesting against nuclear power but few against coal, suggesting that modern society needs to be more rational and must consider the different impacts that different energies will have on quality of life. Only then can we see this issue in perspective, he said.
Current energy policies in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were not good enough, Professor Kuo said, arguing that we needed to integrate talent with these three aspects of energy before we can formulate effective energy policies and promote sustainable socio-economic development.
The forum was attended by about 300 distinguished guests including senior officials and policymakers from Hong Kong and mainland China together with presidents of some local universities, other academics, and international political and business leaders. CityU Council member Mr David Fong Man-hung also attended.
After the forum, Professor Kuo shared his vision on various topics, including Hong Kong’s education and sustainable development, in an interview with ATV’s talk show News Bar Talk.


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