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HK scientist dedicated to research sees formula for progress

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-24 08:35

Wai Ping-kong, president of Hong Kong Baptist University, is a physicist.[Photo provided by Chen Duo/Xinhua]

 For Wai Ping-kong, a Hong Kong physicist specializing in optical communications, a worthwhile research topic must be forward-looking.

"You have to identify where the future lies, and then go bravely toward that direction," says Wai, now the president of Hong Kong Baptist University.

Wai is a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. His proposal to the conference focuses on the better utilization of artificial intelligence in China's research and education.

"The next generation has to pick up emerging technological tools," Wai says.

The 63-year-old has kept a forward-looking mindset, not only in academic research, but also when making life decisions.

"I have always believed in the development of the nation and it turns out that I'm right," Wai says.

Wai grew up as a child passionate about natural phenomena. In the late 1970s, when applying to university, Wai decided to study natural science while most of his peers with good grades would choose medicine.

At the time, science and technology education was relatively undervalued in Hong Kong. According to Wai, there were just around 30 faculty positions in physics in the only two universities in Hong Kong, which had a population of around 5 million people back then. "People said I wouldn't find a job after graduation," Wai recalls.

In 1996, with the impending handover of Hong Kong back to the motherland, Wai returned from the United States after earning his doctoral degree and working there for several years.

"I thought the future was in Hong Kong, and I felt Chinese scientists would have better opportunities on our own land," Wai says.

At the turn of the 21st century, higher education in Hong Kong developed rapidly and more universities came into being. Wai joined the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and spent 25 years there, teaching, conducting researching and later taking part in school management.

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