Help Hong Kong universities set up branches in ‘Greater Bay Area’, Lam urges country’s education chief
Appeal by chief executive follows launch of an alliance seeking to boost ties between Beijing and city’s institutions; state minister presents educational books to local primary schools
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has appealed to the country’s education chief to help local universities set up branches in the “Greater Bay Area” region, which is under a plan to foster social and economic integration between cities in the Pearl River Delta.
The move by Lam came as Minister of Education Chen Baosheng visited the city on Saturday, bringing more than 5,000 sets of books to be distributed among primary schools – 10 for each – as gifts. Chen also witnessed the establishment of an alliance between universities in Beijing and Hong Kong a day before the meeting with Lam.
An Education Bureau spokesman said the books Chen brought were in simplified Chinese. A list provided by the bureau showed that the collection included a set of illustrated books titled My Home Is In China. The publications aim to introduce mainland China to children and teenagers in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
During the meeting between the two at Government House on Saturday, Lam expressed hope that Chen’s ministry would support the local government and universities in setting up campuses across the border.
“If renowned institutions in Hong Kong are able to establish a presence in the bay area, teacher and student exchanges would be enhanced and the goal to develop an international standard of education based in the area would also be met,” Lam said.
Local and mainland authorities did not reveal Chen’s response or other comments he made during the meeting.
During China’s annual “two sessions” of the national legislature and top political advisory body in March, Professor Nancy Ip Yuk-yu, vice-president of the University of Science and Technology, told the Post that the institution was conducting “internal consultations” on its plan to set up another joint research centre in the bay area.
Ip said that in the long run, HKUST might also establish a campus there to provide training for more students.
At present, only the Chinese University of Hong Kong has a branch in Shenzhen, which was set up with approval from the Ministry of Education. There are more than 3,000 students in the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across five faculties of the six-year-old university branch.
HKUST has a joint research centre in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The university is one of at least four public universities that have set up joint research institutes across the border. The University of Hong Kong and Baptist University also have centres in Shenzhen, while Lingnan University has one in Guangzhou.
To enhance communication and collaboration between the higher education sectors in Beijing and Hong Kong, the Beijing-Hong Kong Universities Alliance was set up at HKUST on Friday, witnessed by Chen and Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung.
The alliance comprises the eight public universities in Hong Kong and 12 in Beijing, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Beijing Normal University, and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The alliance plans to host annual forums for university heads starting this year.
Yeung said at Friday’s ceremony: “I am confident our universities will scale new heights through collaboration with top-notch universities in mainland China.”
Chen also visited the Po Leung Kuk Wong Wing Shu Primary School in Tseung Kwan O, accompanied by Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.
The minister said 10 sets of book would be given to each of the local primary schools “as a token of the ministry’s support and care for Hong Kong’s education and young students”.
Besides My Home Is In China, other publications included book sets that cover topics such as Chinese poems, characters and history; famous scientists worldwide; world history and a dictionary for primary school pupils.
One publication on Chinese culture was written by two professors from Peking University’s philosophy department and published before the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a bid to introduce China to foreigners.
Meanwhile the overseas edition of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily called My Home Is In China “a quality illustrated series tailor-made for children and teenagers in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to obtain comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the long history and splendid culture of their motherland”.
Wu Siu-wai, vice-chairman of the pro-establishment Federation of Education Workers, welcomed the books. “Though local students may find it a bit difficult to read simplified Chinese, it’s a nice gesture and it should be enriching,” Wu said.
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum