France and Hong Kong

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Ms Carrie Lam, made her first visit to France (Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris) from 15 to 21 June 2018. On this occasion, she met with Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Mr Édouard Philippe, Prime Minister. She attended a ceremony for the delivery of H175 helicopters at the Airbus Helicopters site in Marignane, in the presence of Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. Mr Lemoyne later visited Hong Kong on 30 November 2018.

With almost 20,000 nationals, including almost 14,000 enrolled on the lists of the Consulate General, the French community in Hong Kong is the second largest in Asia, just behind Singapore, and accounts for 45% of French nationals in China.

Bilateral trade flows between France and Hong Kong stood at €5.6 billion in 2016. Hong Kong represents France’s second-largest trade surplus worldwide, behind the United Kingdom (€6.9 billion in 2017). Thanks to further transit to China, French exports to Hong Kong have almost doubled in a decade (aeronautics, wines, pharmaceuticals). France is the fourteenth largest foreign investor in Hong Kong and the second-largest from Europe. A total of 800 French businesses, including 373 subsidiaries and 92 regional headquarters are present in Hong Kong, producing turnover estimated at €14.5 billion. 70 Hong Kong companies are present in France, employing 7,000 people.

France’s trade performance in Hong Kong is mainly based on products with very high added value for which Hong Kong is a key purchasing platform at regional level. Leading sectors are aviation, leather goods, clothing and footwear, perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery and clockmaking, and wines and spirits. The Hong Kong authorities wish to make their city a wine trade hub in Asia.

Innovation is a shared priority of the governments of France and Hong Kong. In early 2016, France set up a French Tech Hub in Hong Kong, aimed at fostering the integration of French start-ups in their regional environment and promoting the attractiveness of the French ecosystems for Hong Kong’s start-ups.

French is taught at eight major local universities and studied by around 2,000 students. The Alliance Française branch in Hong Kong was created in 1953. It has 6,000 students and 12,500 registrations (2017). The French International School (FIS) Victor Segalen is the largest in Asia, with 2,661 students enrolled at the start of the 2017/18 academic year.

Scientific, academic and research cooperation between France and Hong Kong is implemented through four main activity focuses: development of high-level scientific partnerships through support for researcher mobility; promotion of French higher education and student mobility; support for the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, specialized in basic research into infectious diseases; development of the France-HKUST Innovation Hub, a platform for cooperation and scientific and academic communication aimed at fostering partnerships, including in the area of R&D with French high-technology companies. Between 350 and 500 students from Hong Kong leave to study in France each year, while between 400 and 500 French students participate in exchanges in Hong Kong.

The French Study Centre on Contemporary China (CEFC) is the only European research centre in the country dedicated to studying contemporary China. It was created in 1991 and is based in Hong Kong. The CEFC is involved in doctoral training, regularly organizes research seminars and international conferences, and publishes the quarterly academic journal “Perspectives Chinoises”.

Cultural activities include the annual “French May” festival created 25 years ago. It remains a key event in the visibility of French culture in Hong Kong. Each year, the festival offers a varied cultural programme (exhibitions, shows, cinema, gastronomy, etc.) aimed at highlighting all aspects of French culture. In 2017, the festival offered more than 150 cultural activities and reached a million spectators, including 350,000 for the Louvre exhibition alone. In the audiovisual field, cooperation focused on the film industry, with 20 annual film festivals presenting classic or contemporary French cinema (650 films screened in 2016, 170 of which were French productions). Hong Kong is also of interest for French creative industries in the digital arts field (virtual and augmented reality, transmedia projects and video games in particular).

Updated: March 2019