It is well known that the region of Hong Kong is equipped with a significant number of well-trained scientists. However, the issue is that for a long time, there have been a surprisingly low number of outlets for them to make proper use of their talents and innovation in basic research, a recent report notes.
However, things are in the processing of changing. As a result of the mainland’s drive to become a pre-eminent scientific and technological powerhouse within the next decade, ample research funding and positions are now available to Hong Kong researchers.
Northern Hong Kong is where the city’s scientific talent can find excellent opportunities. An example of this is the story of an engineering professor and his Polytechnic University colleagues who helped design and make the robotic mount for the mission-critical camera that captured the world’s first landing on the far side of the moon by the Chang’e 4 spacecraft.
The university provided multi-disciplinary support to the nation’s historic landing on the far side of the Moon using its most advanced technologies and techniques.
The multi-axis mount – built from a hardened aluminium alloy at the Hung Hom campus – is designed to extend and rotate at 360 degrees on top of the lander. But it is not the only major contribution from the university on the lunar mission.
An associate professor of the university’s land surveying and geo-informatics department led a team that helped plan and select a landing site called the Von Karman crater in the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin.
The AP and his team have also built equipment for space agencies in Russia and the European Union.
A collaboration as successful all this is proof that Hong Kong is destined to play a crucial role in China’s hi-tech drive. Since last year, local scientists have been allowed to apply for national-level funding previously only available to mainland researchers.
The policy changes came after President Xi Jinping directed state agencies to help the city to become an international innovation hub.
The chief scientist of the lunar programme recently revealed that scientists from the US Nasa space agency had asked to use Chang’e 4’s relay satellite to help them plan an American mission to the far side of the moon.
It is not clear what came of the American request, made several years ago. The current climate between China and the US makes it obvious that such requests seem extremely unlikely to be made again any time soon.
As a result, Hong Kong is well-positioned to help China with its scientific and technological endeavours. The country is being put under greater scrutiny in many Western countries when it comes to science and technology.
Collaborative doors are being closed. Even some ethnic Chinese scientists, though American citizens have fallen under suspicion.
All this puts Hong Kong in a unique position, not only to help research on the mainland but to serve as a bridge for the scientific communities in China and overseas – an opportunity that will not only be beneficial for the region but for the global economy as a whole.