Welcome to the fourth edition of CUHK in Focus.

It has been an exciting few days for Hong Kong. The Special Administrative Region has just marked the 25th anniversary of its establishment and sworn in a new administration.

Many in our community experienced the festivities at a special flag raising ceremony held at the new flag podium on our main campus. The national flag was raised to the tune of the national anthem alongside the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag and the University’s flag. This important occasion has given me cause to reflect on how far our city has come, and the University’s role in its evolution over the past 25 years.

I have been reading through our annual reports from the 1996-97 and 97-98 academic years for some glimpses of what life at CUHK was like at the time of Hong Kong’s return to China. Plans were afoot to launch programmes in hotel management, Chinese medicine and education, and the University secured agreement to use land near the MTR station in what is now the Cheng Yu Tung Building and our teaching hotel.

Area next to the University station: now and then

It was also an exciting time as the University entered into major collaborations and established initiatives to integrate CUHK with the nation’s development. We established a liaison office in Beijing to advance our links with government agencies, research institutions and our sister institutions on the mainland.

Importantly, we became the first higher education institution in Hong Kong to extend undergraduate admission to students from mainland China. By recognising results of the Gaokao examination, we were determined to see more and more students from across the country receive the benefits of a CUHK education. Thousands of mainland students have since called CUHK home over the past quarter of a century, and many have gone on to achieve careers of great heights in Hong Kong, across the country, and around the world.  

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Today, these programmes and initiatives have become important parts of our rich CUHK tapestry that we almost take them for granted.

The first batch of mainland students to pursue undergraduate studies at CUHK

As the country embarks on a new phase of development with ambitious, groundbreaking opportunities heralded by the ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong is poised to contribute its unique role as an international facilitator. The higher education sector is the engine room for tomorrow’s knowledge-based economy, and is responsible in ensuring that Hong Kong provides an endowment of social capital to power the nation’s growth over the decades to come.

In particular, the city’s universities have been supporting Hong Kong’s rise as a powerhouse of science and technology. We were honoured to have the visit from President Xi Jinping last week to the Hong Kong Science Park to witness seven top innovations in the territory, three of which are built from the innovative achievements of successful CUHK spinoff companies, including the global AI software company SenseTime, the cutting-edge Centre of Novostics for molecular diagnostics, and the healthcare technology startup Cornerstone Robotics Limited. CUHK researchers and investigators are continuing to strengthen and build a fertile ecosystem for translational research to empower the development of Hong Kong as a global technology hub. We stand ready to work seamlessly with the government and the community to compose the new chapter of the ‘Hong Kong Story’. We also warmly congratulate the nine CUHK alumni who were recently appointed to the new SAR administration, and wish them every success.

Celebrating generosity and our desire for perfection

As our city marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, CUHK also celebrates a generous $150 million donation from the Li Ka Shing Foundation to support research and development in biomedical technologies in the Faculty of Medicine.

The donation will drive the implementation of a new Passion for Perfection (P for P) Scheme, which is designed to accelerate the development and translation of research discoveries into patient care – often referred to as a ‘bench to bedside’ process, resulting in medical advances and improved human health. P for P will also strengthen innovations and enhance intellectual property development, as well as nurture a culture of entrepreneurship, which we hope will lead to better healthcare solutions in Hong Kong.

This magnanimous gift will empower CUHK to build on our world-class strengths in innovative biomedicine, a key pillar of our 2021-25 Strategic Plan that aims for ‘Excellence with Purpose and Responsibility’, to break new ground in frontier biomedical research and translational developments to transform patient care and public health.

Getting ready for our diamond jubilee

As we celebrate the city’s special anniversary, we have also started planning CUHK’s 60th anniversary celebrations which are due to kick off after Chinese New Year and run throughout 2023 and into the 2023-2024 academic year.

An array of exciting initiatives are being planned to reflect on our heritage and celebrate plans for our future. Apart from University-initiated events, participation of Colleges, Faculties and Units, and of course students, is strongly encouraged, and we will soon be launching a system with information on how you can join and contribute your ideas to the many events of the celebration.

The 60th anniversary, or 甲子 in Chinese, signifies a new and original beginning, and will be an important occasion for us to foster even stronger bonds across our community, and to refresh and reinvigorate our efforts to propel CUHK, our city, and the nation even further into a bright future.

I look forward to sharing more stories with you in our next edition.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Rocky S. Tuan
Vice-Chancellor and President
The Chinese University of Hong Kong