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Hong Kong Basic Law

Research body must reach out to everyone in Hong Kong

‘Local branch’ of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences can give Beijing a better understanding of the city and help formulate improved policies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 2:04am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 September, 2017, 2:04am

Yet another policy research body has been established in Hong Kong. Registered as the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, it is described as a “local branch” of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the State Council’s top research and advisory body. The move is said to be an attempt by the central government to better understand the city. This is not surprising, given the tense relations with Beijing in recent years. It would be good if the institute could fully reflect local issues and sentiments to the central government and help formulate better policies.

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Records showed the institute was established just days before the 20th anniversary of the city’s reunification with the mainland. It has a mission to promote academic exchange between Hong Kong and the mainland, to serve the city’s economic, social and cultural development and to enhance its competitiveness, according to a report of its inauguration ceremony, which was also mentioned on the academy’s website.

There have been suggestions that policymakers in Beijing get most of their information about Hong Kong from local officials, “mainland experts” on short visits and the city government, which raises the question as to whether such channels are comprehensive enough. Having a branch of the academy will enhance researchers’ understanding and exposure to the city, which in turn will help officials better respond to the situation locally.

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The academy is made up of 31 research institutes and 45 research centres, with 3,200 professional researchers working across almost 300 subdisciplines. However, little is known about the local institute. Given its influence, it would be good if it operated in a more transparent manner.

More importantly, it should reach out to different people regardless of their background and political affiliations; and operate in accordance with the principle of “one country, two systems”. Hopefully, it will enable decision makers to have a full and accurate assessment of the local situation and come up with policies that assist in the implementation of “one country, two systems”.