IT group slams Chinese govt for not doing enough

Hong Kong-based Internet Professional Association, which is largely seen as pro-establishment, has hit out at the Chinese government for not doing enough and being "insincere" in its development of the local ICT industry.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

A Hong Kong-based IT group in China, largely seen as pro-establishment, has hit out at the Chinese government for not doing enough to boost the local industry. 

Hong Kong's latest Digital 21 plan shrank from over 80 pages to a 60-plus documentation.

Describing Beijing's efforts toward IT development as "insincere", Witman Hung Wai-Ma, chairman of Internet Professional Association (iProA), said the industry's prospects had become so dire that the group felt it necessary to speak out against the government, according to a report Friday on South China Morning Post. Hung is also co-founder of Next Horizon, which provides backoffice process outsourcing.  

iProA is a non-profit organization with over 2,600 members specializing in various areas including e-commerce, consultancy, investment, and other Internet-related professional services. The group has strong links to political supporters. One of its former presidents, Elizabeth Quat, was elected into the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and there were also suggestions its close connections to the government helped the group secure a HK$220 million (US$28.38 million) government IT contract.

The group's core members have formed a committee as a response to the Chinese government's five-year roadmap and consultation paper, Digital 21, which was revealed in September and is the fourth iteration of the country's ICT strategy. 

Hung said: "Although I am always categorized as being in the pro-government camp, I can bear no more the government's reluctance and inaction in developing our IT industry. The bureaucrats still think our IT development is top in Asia, but the truth is Hong Kong lags behind Singapore, [South] Korea, and even Taiwan."

He noted that while the three Asian countries contributed 2.5 percent of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) toward IT development, this figure stood at just 0.7 percent for Hong Kong. 

He said the latest Digital 21 document was much thinner than the previous 2008 version, clearly indicating the Chinese government's "lukewarm" approach to ICT. "There were only 20-something pages for the latest document--which included a lot of reviews, but little recommendations--while in 2008 we had more than 60 pages," Hung reproached. 

Group member Paul Fung Tak-chung also questioned the rationale for giving the HK$1.2 million (US$154,789) contract to a consulting firm owned by IBM, to prepare the Digital 21 document. "Would it want to introduce drastic policy changes that may bring in new IT products?" Fung said, inferring a potential conflict of interests.

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