Young people from the mainland are more positive about Hong Kong's political and economic development than their counterparts in the city, yet they hold similar views on the city's education system and both believe cultural exchanges should be enhanced.
In a surprising result, a survey by the YouthOnline Association, which this month gauged the views of 500 young people aged 15 to 18 from the mainland and 470 from Hong Kong, found 45 per cent of respondents from both groups believed Hong Kong's education system was not healthy and that various institutions did not enjoy autonomy and academic freedom. This compared with 50 per cent of mainland youngsters who were positive about this area, and 36 per cent for the Hong Kong respondents.
The study also found that 80 per cent of respondents from each group believed cultural exchanges were a major and effective channel for enhancing mutual understanding, with more than 80 per cent saying such exchanges should be strengthened.
The greatest contrast in the views of the two groups - both of which joined exchange tours either to Hong Kong or the mainland this month - lay in political and economic areas.
While 70 per cent of the mainland respondents believed the Basic Law was a legal guarantee for the implementation of 'one country, two systems', only 54 per cent of their Hong Kong counterparts thought so.
Ninety per cent of mainland respondents believed the social and labour welfare, as well as retirement protection, enjoyed by Hong Kong residents received sufficient legal protection, yet only 53 per cent of the Hong Kong youngsters held such a view.
While 80 per cent of mainland youngsters believed Hong Kong would continue its leading position in areas such as economics, finance and logistics, only 59 per cent of the Hong Kong youngsters thought so.
The results of the survey were unveiled at an exchange forum at which about 500 youngsters - including 400 from 30 provinces, autonomous regions and centrally controlled municipalities on the mainland - participated.
Guest speaker Elsie Leung Oi-sie, vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee, stressed that Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy was granted by the central government. She also highlighted that the difficulty of 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong' was that the city did not have a ruling party.
'Hong Kong's political parties often sway in their stances, which is why it is very difficult for the SAR government to predict whether its bills and policies will win their support,' she said, adding that it would take a while for the executive and the legislature to co-ordinate well. The former secretary for justice also pointed out that Hongkongers' national identity should be strengthened.