HK think tank to put Asian angle on global issues

AP News
Posted: Aug 26, 2011 6:36 AM
HK think tank to put Asian angle on global issues

A prominent Hong Kong business family has set up a think tank to look at global economic issues in the latest attempt at developing a world class research institute in Asia that can rival those in North America or Europe.

The Fung Global Institute was established on Thursday and will look at global issues from an Asian perspective as economic power increasingly shifts to the East.

As Asian economies have grown, new think tanks have sprouted in the region. But limits on democracy and free speech in many Asian countries mean few have produced research comparable in quality and influence to counterparts such as the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, Canada's Fraser Institute or Britain's Chatham House.

The Fung Global Institute said it is recruiting experts from around the globe to provide business leaders and policymakers with research that aims to "help shape and advance international dialogue on Asia's growing influence on the world economy."

Michael Spence, a 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, will chair the think tank's academic board.

The institute is set up with a $15 million endowment from the Victor and William Fung Foundation _ a charity funded by and named for the two brothers behind trading company Li & Fung Ltd. The company is one of the biggest suppliers of clothing and other consumer goods sourced in Asia for Western consumers.

The institute is looking for another $85 million in donations from charities and businesses, said President Andrew Sheng, who is the former chairman of Hong Kong's securities watchdog, the Securities and Futures Commission.

The institute's experts may be based all around the world so "it's going to be somewhat virtual, a lot of them will be using latest technology and social media to have discussions," said Sheng.

The aim "is to bring out all the diverse perspectives that there are within Asia," he said.

The think tank will look at four main themes, including global supply chains. It plans to hold an annual forum in Hong Kong in May.