A senior Beijing envoy in Hong Kong has lauded the city’s potential to contribute to legal sector cooperation with countries in Asia and Africa, praising a locally based regional arbitration centre as an example of national efforts to boost ties with the continents.
Fang Jianming, deputy commissioner of China’s foreign ministry arm in the city, also said on Tuesday that hosting an annual forum for the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO), the parent organisation of the regional centre, would open up new avenues to work closely with countries.
“The establishment of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre is an exemplary example of China’s legal cooperation with Asia and Africa,” Fang said at the event’s opening ceremony. “It is also a cornerstone for rule of law and cultural exchanges between Asian and African countries.”
The forum runs until Wednesday, with attendees including representatives for the international legal body’s 47 member states.
Adopting the theme of “Bandung spirit”, a call for peaceful coexistence named after a meeting of former colonial territories and developing nations in 1955, the conference will discuss the latest developments in arbitration laws across Asia and Africa.
Hong Kong houses a regional arbitration centre under the organisation. Established in 2021, the centre has been mentioned by top Beijing officials as a part of the city’s efforts to become a hub for international law and dispute resolution services under the country’s 14th five-year plan.
China’s former vice foreign minister, Xie Feng, who is now the country’s ambassador to the United States, addressed a conference in Hong Kong last year to encourage the city to become a legal hub in the Asia-Pacific region through the arbitration centre.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu also addressed the forum on Tuesday in a pre-recorded speech, saying the city remained committed to promoting international cooperation and connecting the legal body’s member states, many of which were part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, with the country.
“We endeavour to serve as a ‘superconnector’ and a ‘super value-adder’ between the mainland of China and the rest of the world through the twin conduits of AALCO and belt and road networks,” Lee said.
The belt and road strategy is an ambitious infrastructure development project launched by Beijing in 2013 to improve trade and economic ties with countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.