How to ensure Hong Kong’s youth capture Qianhai’s opportunities
- The Hong Kong government needs a concrete plan to capitalise on the expanded zone in Shenzhen
- Qianhai could offer young Hongkongers the jobs they crave, along with the bustle of city life, green space and a chance to own a home
Economic development policies are, in essence, policies for youth. With their energy and positive outlook, young people often have ambitious goals and are eager to make their mark on society. Hence, they are more likely to take up the key role of driving the economy while also becoming one of the greatest beneficiaries of that economic growth.
This new market will be a platform for innovation and experiments in reforms for growth sectors including modern services, international trade, high-end technology, artificial intelligence, maritime services, green finance, health care, creative culture, and legal and dispute resolution services.
The plan guides local governments in establishing the necessary conditions and enhancing the operating environment for Qianhai to attract more private-sector participation and private investment. It also offers tangible support in proposing to increase the size of the Qianhai cooperation zone from 14.92 sq km to 120.56 sq km.
All this is highly relevant to the youth of Hong Kong. It is important to connect the dots between the opportunities in Qianhai and the expectations of young people because local governments need to formulate measures to attract more young people to join and engage in this critical mission of economic development. At the moment, this topic is not widely discussed among Hong Kong youth.
First, the Qianhai plan is expected to create more jobs with growth potential that are attractive to young people. In a recent survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, jobseekers aged 18-34 said their top three considerations are compensation, career advancement and job nature.
The Qianhai plan welcomes a diversity of service-oriented businesses. This is also a good match for Hong Kong youth, who are mostly interested in launching projects in media, design, consumer and social impact sectors. For hardcore technology start-ups that have higher entry barriers, Qianhai has abundant resources and expertise pools to offer as well.
Young Hongkongers who enjoy the city hustle and bustle should get a familiar feeling in the future Qianhai. In moving to Qianhai, they would also be able to exchange ideas frequently with their mainland Chinese and expatriate colleagues and learn from them, quickly building valuable professional contacts and personal relationships.
Last but not least, the Qianhai plan is expected to create a quality living environment. Tech-savvy youth would find it very convenient to live in Qianhai, given the city’s hi-tech amenities including shops and restaurants.
More importantly, the massive expansion of Qianhai’s land area would allow urban planners to add elements such as green parks and open spaces for day-to-day arts, cultural and sports events.
The rich experiences in Qianhai would entice young people to stay longer, and local governments could take the opportunity to experiment with affordable new housing models and, more specifically, a public home purchase scheme at discounted prices, targeting middle-income Hongkongers willing to work and live in Qianhai for at least a few years.
Gary Wong Chi-him is a board member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies