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Hong Kong youth

Hong Kong youth dream of democracy, fairness and a greener world. So does China

Wang Zhimin says the city’s young people should take heart in the Communist Party’s – and nation’s – growing strength and confidence, and weave their personal aspirations into the nation’s dream for rejuvenation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 11:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 7:06pm

Young people not only represent the future and hope but also constitute the most energetic force in driving social development forward with the times. I believe that young people do well when Hong Kong does well, and Hong Kong does even better when young people do better.

Earlier this month, the 19th Communist Party congress left its triumphant mark in the history books. It is safe to say that General Secretary Xi Jinping’s report is the sum of the party’s collective wisdom and the answer to the people’s expectations. It will guide our national development and profoundly influence the international community. That is the power of “big democracy”.

Some say there is no other political party in the world that could pull off a worldwide live broadcast of the entire proceedings of their national congress that produces the new leadership. The openness and transparency showcased reflected the poise and self-confidence of the Communist Party. It is said that the “Lu Lian phenomenon” is brewing as some Taiwanese students in Peking University have declared their intention to join the party. [Taiwanese academic Lu Lian became the talk of the town last month after openly attending the 19th congress as a party member.]

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The “new era” is vivid and tangible. A vital point raised in the report is that the main contradiction of China’s society has become one between the people’s ever-growing need for a better life, and unbalanced and inadequate development. This means, in the new era, that China needs to advance all aspects of democracy, rule of law, fairness, justice, security and the environment.

Those keywords should sound familiar to Hong Kong youth, who are pursuing them as well.

The 19th party congress elevated “one country, two systems” to a component of fundamental national strategy. That tells us we should also think about Hong Kong’s role and opportunities – even Hong Kong’s future and the young people’s future. It is important to note that many strategic plans spelled out in the report actually concern Hong Kong and will greatly benefit Hong Kong.

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One example is the “Belt and Road Initiative”. Hong Kong has played a very important role in the country’s efforts to “bring in” and “go out” over the past 39 years of reform and opening up, and will surely play a greater role in implementing the belt and road plan, developing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and the internationalisation of the renminbi. The Greater Bay Area should be the fertile ground for young people to cultivate their careers.

Hong Kong compatriots used to have a strong sense of superiority over the mainland but now many people are worried about the city’s marginalisation, which is unnecessary. As long as we firmly uphold the “one country” principle and make good use of the “two systems” advantage, Hong Kong compatriots, especially the young people, should be able to build a career, form a family, start a business and innovate in the new and much bigger common home we call the Greater Bay Area, and realise their dream.

Xi says in the report: “A nation will prosper only when its young people thrive; a country will be full of hope and have a great tomorrow only when its younger generations have ideals, ability and a strong sense of responsibility. The Chinese Dream is a dream about history, the present, and the future. It is a dream of our generation, but even more so, a dream of the younger generations. The Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation will be realised ultimately through the endeavours of young people, generation by generation.”

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Most of you in the audience are probably in your 20s and 30s. The next 30 years or so will be the most energetic and creative period in your life. In today’s China, there is a team of young engineers averaging 30 years of age doing research and development of planes, who are described by foreign colleagues as “the youngest brains in aircraft design”; another team of engineers in their 30s are considered the future of superconductor maglev technology; the mainstay of the 5G telecoms network technology development in Shenzhen is dominated by young people; a group of scientists averaging 35 years of age has put China at the forefront of quantum physics in the world; and, one of our best ground control teams for space missions, who boast an average age of 30, are the envy of foreign colleagues.

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Young people are the future of our motherland. They are Hong Kong’s future and hope as well. I hope my young friends in Hong Kong will integrate their own dreams into the Chinese Dream, write their own chapters in the book of great achievements under the Lion Rock and add their fantastic life experience to the new pages of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Wang Zhimin is director of the central government’s liaison office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This is an edited excerpt of a keynote speech delivered on the opening day of the 2017 Boao Youth Forum for Asia in Hong Kong on November 2, translated from Chinese