President Xi Jinping said he supports Hong Kong becoming an international center for innovative science and technology.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in an instruction released on Monday.
In June, 24 academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering who were working in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region wrote a letter to Xi to express their will to contribute to the country and their enthusiasm for developing innovative science and technology.
Xi attached great importance to the letter, made instructions and quickly arranged the relevant works, according to Xinhua News Agency.
In the instructions, Xi stressed promoting scientific cooperation between the SAR and the mainland.
The president also encouraged Hong Kong's scientific community to contribute to building a strong country of science and technology and fulfill national rejuvenation.
The scientific advantages of the mainland and the SAR should be fully used to develop the economy and improve people's lives, which is necessary to implement the principle of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong, Xi said.
Hong Kong has a great amount of high-quality scientific talent, he said, and they love the country and the SAR. He called them an important force for implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development and building an innovative country.
Hong Kong's scientific community has made great contributions to the development of the country and Hong Kong, Xi said.
The president attaches great importance to the problems mentioned in the letter of the academicians, saying that they must be resolved in a proper way with concrete measures.
Following Xi's instructions, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance have had meetings and collected opinions from the Hong Kong scientific community to find measures to address the problems.
The problems mentioned in the academicians' letter, including the need for increased use of national scientific project funds in Hong Kong and tariff reductions for scientific machines, have been mostly resolved.
Hong Kong-based scientists stand as a major force in the country's technological push, and should be allowed to play a more proactive part in the big story unfolding in the motherland, says Chan Ching-chuen, founding president of the World Electric Vehicles Association.
"A higher level of science-technology cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong is something inherent in the 'one country, two systems' principle. It stands as a living embodiment that the policy has been consistently enriched and developed," said Chan, who also serves as honorary professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong. "The strength of Hong Kong-based scientists should be given full play," Chan added.
Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, a Hong Kong scientist and the previous vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said his team is one of the first beneficiaries of the relaxed cross-border research fund. His team had been granted 990,000 yuan ($156,000) at the end of last year for his ongoing research on digestive cancers.
"President Xi's instructions open a door for Hong Kong scientists and researchers," said Sung. "It gives our research jobs flexibility. Easy interchange between Hong Kong and Guangdong province facilitates the exchanges between scientists and researchers from both sides.
"In the future, Hong Kong research teams could apply for funding directly without the necessity of partnering with mainland researchers."
Nancy Ip Yuk-yu, vice-president for research and graduate studies of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said she was moved and encouraged by Xi's latest instruction.
Ip said it reflected that the country attaches great importance to Hong Kong's scientific research, which could create favorable conditions for the SAR's development in related fields as well as facilitating more collaboration between scientists in Hong Kong and the mainland.
Ip, who is a Hong Kong academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also thought Xi's speech proved that the SAR's capacity for scientific research has received the country's recognition, which could encourage Hong Kong scientists to be better integrated into the national development in innovation and technology.