Hong Kong needs to nurture and retain talent, not push our best young people across the border
- Closed borders aside, by telling young people Hong Kong is no longer the land of opportunity, we are fuelling the brain drain. Worse, we seem to be saying there is nothing for them here
- At the heart of these conflicting messages is Hong Kong’s continued struggle to fit in, as part of China and in a world of growing complexity
And, 25 years on, our insecurities – how we identify and position ourselves as Hongkongers – remain a collective struggle. We are still trying to figure out where we fit in, as part of a country that has undergone phenomenal changes in the past three decades, and in a region and world of growing complexities.
We are an international city that has always prided ourselves on attracting talent from all around the world. We are also a gateway to mainland China and, as such, we have devoted much to cross-border integration.
Opportunities abound – except the borders are still closed, which is a huge barrier to integration. Leung has said the closed border shouldn’t be an excuse, but we are, at the end of the day, tapping into opportunities afforded us by the connectivity of the different cities, and by the flows of people, goods and ideas.
The national vision of creating a new economic powerhouse works by linking (and “linking” is the operative word here) Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities.
For years, we have been telling young people to cross the border to seize new opportunities. Yet we are not taking into consideration our new realities.
For all the lip service every administration has paid to their commitment to education and nurturing talent, this is where we’re at: we are losing talent and we are telling the remaining people to go away.
At the heart of these conflicting messages is Hong Kong’s continued struggle to find our place. The government must inspire confidence in the city’s future, and that involves being clear about what our unique roles are, and how we prepare our youth for them. Simply pushing young people across the border doesn’t cut it.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA