Joseph Hun-wei Lee on Macao-China relations

The Chinese language administrative area of Macao has an identical authorized set-up to Hong Kong, however in some ways it’s diametrically against its neighbour.

Generally known as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, Macao’s historic centre can also be a UNESCO world heritage web site and the town is a part of a aggressive new analysis commercialisation hub.

Joseph Hun-wei Lee, president of Macau College of Science and Know-how (MUST), tells Instances Larger Training how his establishment helps the area shift away from its financial reliance on playing {dollars}, and why he thinks Macao has a greater relationship with the Chinese language central authorities than Hong Kong.

Pivoting to innovation

Lee, a civil engineer who studied on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how (MIT) and labored briefly on the College of Delaware earlier than returning to his native Hong Kong, has been heading up MUST since January 2021. He says the college has a crystal-clear function to play within the Chinese language central authorities’s plans for the Larger Bay Space, which covers Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.

“We’re one among two universities which were designated by the central authorities to contribute to the event of innovation know-how within the Larger Bay Space,” he says. “We’re anticipated to behave as one of many nodes and particularly to develop a high-quality base for know-how switch [and] commercialisation of know-how – so it’s not simply analysis and growth however contributing to driving the economic system.”

To that finish, he’s overhauling MUST’s engineering programme to equip college students with a “extra interdisciplinary mindset, as a result of today know-how modifications so quickly”.

“I feel engineers must be uncovered to different issues like entrepreneurship, like communication, like design pondering,” he says. “We have to higher put together engineers for the brand new innovation-led economic system.”

Though playing has made Macao one of many richest locations on earth, many could be repelled by the dazzle of a super-sized Las Vegas. Lee prefers to make use of the phrase “gaming” over “playing”, and he’s happy with the area: “You’ll be amazed. The luxurious and the expertise!”

He doesn’t consider its popularity damages his possibilities of hiring worldwide workers or college students, stating that Macao additionally has a wealthy cultural heritage stemming from its Portuguese and Chinese language influences. Moreover, the area is enticing to worldwide students as a result of it could actually provide the advantages of Chinese language academia, “with out the problems of geopolitics”, he says. By which he means the cooling relations between China and the US.

Is he not involved that the casinos encircling his campus would possibly tempt his college students away from their research and into debt?

“Though we’re surrounded by casinos, it’s not an issue for us,” he says. MUST has “fairly good self-discipline”, he provides; most of its college students keep on campus and are engaged by their programs. Though he admits that the establishment is “continuously keeping track of this [issue]”.

Two areas, one system

Whereas Hong Kong was for a number of years beset with protests at what many describe as China’s creeping energy seize over the area, Macao – which additionally has the “one nation, two programs” settlement – has been extra accepting of Chinese language rule. For Lee, this can be a good factor.

“In Hong Kong, the complete metropolis life was disrupted. I used to be in Hong Kong throughout the protests,” he says. “I’m glad not less than to see the town restored to order as a result of what we went by means of was actually virtually lawlessness.”

“To count on regulation and order isn’t an unreasonable factor,” he provides.

Macao has a “deeper historic connection” with the mainland than Hong Kong does, Lee explains, helped by the truth that its official language is Chinese language.

He says Macao will be seen as a halfway between mainland China and Hong Kong: “The individuals in Macao admire the return to sovereignty and I might say on the whole have a greater understanding of mainland China.”

There was some push again in Macao final yr, nonetheless, when journalists on the public broadcaster have been ordered to advertise “patriotism, respect and love” for China. At the very least six resigned. The “one nation, two programs” system in Hong Kong and Macao guarantees freedoms not afforded in mainland China, together with freedom of the press.

As a pacesetter of an establishment coaching the following era of journalists, what does Lee consider the brand new editorial guidelines?

“We take a look at nationwide patriotism as one thing optimistic,” he says.

“As with all nation, as sovereignty has returned to China, then rightly so [you should] know your nation…not less than to have an understanding of the nation. Primary civic training, patriotism. We take a look at it positively.”

He provides: “Actually, in 2019, MUST began implementing a flag-raising ceremony for 3 necessary events yearly, even earlier than this was obligatory.”

However, having hung out within the US, he should know that American journalists could be horrified at being informed to advertise the federal government?

“That is very pointedly at my background,” he says. “With journalism, the liberty to report is an effective factor, however I don’t see this as a battle with selling sure nationwide values.

“Within the outdated days in Hong Kong, even once I was a child, originally of every film, you’ve the Queen, proper. So I assume within the outdated days within the UK, you had that, too?”

The Chinese language authorities doesn’t “need to intervene, however when you create a scenario they really feel is uncontrolled, they in all probability would do”, he provides.

From the US to Hong Kong

Lee didn’t develop up anticipating to be an educational. Neither of his mother and father was educated however he received a scholarship to MIT when he was 17 and was influenced by “among the greatest minds”. After briefly working within the US, he returned to Hong Kong as a result of “I did not see myself in suburban America”.

Imaginative and prescient is the important thing to being college chief, he believes: “I’m not saying I’m chief, however the leaders I’ve seen that I aspire to be like…to begin with the imaginative and prescient is essential. It’s essential to articulate the imaginative and prescient.”

“Teachers on the whole are very particular individuals,” he provides. “In case you persuade them, then they are going to assist you, even when they didn’t assist you originally…lecturers are very totally different from businessmen.”


That is a part of our “Speaking management” sequence of fifty interviews over 50 weeks with the individuals working the world’s prime universities about how they remedy frequent strategic points and implement change. Comply with the sequence right here.

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