THE NEW YORK TIMES - Economic Research Institute Created in Hong Kong E-mail
Thursday, 25 August 2011 10:44

Michael SpenceBy Keith Bradsher


HONG KONG — The leader of one of the most influential business families in Hong Kong announced Thursday that the family’s foundation was setting up a nonprofit research group here to analyze economic and corporate issues from an Asian perspective.

The research group, the Fung Global Institute, is the latest in a series of efforts by Asian tycoons, universities and governments to set up institutions to match the kind of analysis produced in the United States by groups like the Brookings Institution.

But research groups in Asia have struggled so far to attract prominent international scholars or to establish reputations for independence in a region where democracy and freedom of speech are still limited in many countries.

The first president of the Fung Global Institute will be Andrew L.T. Sheng, the former chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. A. Michael Spence, the winner in 2001 of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science and the former dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business in California, will be the chairman of the academic board.

The Victor and William Fung Foundation, named for the brothers who built Li & Fung into the largest trading company providing Asian consumer goods to the American market, is providing an initial $15 million for the endowment, and seeking to raise $85 million from other business leaders in Asia, said Victor Fung, who will be the founding chairman.

Mr. Fung and Mr. Spence said that the institute would not have fixed positions on issues but would allow its fellows to hold and articulate a range of views. Mr. Fung said that Hong Kong’s protections for free speech had helped make it the clear choice for the headquarters of the institute, although many of the top experts will be allowed to live elsewhere.

The initial four areas of research for the institute are less controversial than political themes would be. The areas are global supply chains, global financial governance, China’s economic growth model and sustainability of global economic growth.

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