Understand your history and grasp opportunities, Tung Chee-hwa tells Hong Kong youth

Former city leader reiterates call to ride on China’s economic growth, and warns against independence advocacy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 3:44pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 11:20pm

Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa has urged the city’s youth to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese history and grasp the opportunities offered by China’s economic growth.

Tung, now an elder statesman as a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body, also said that the Hong Kong government needed to develop its financial and film industries to offer job opportunities for young people.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme, Tung was asked if he was worried about young Hongkonger’s lack of national identity.

Tung Chee-hwa: the whole world is trying to ride on China’s economic progress ... why shouldn’t Hong Kong?

“Young people need to realise that it is important for their future that they understand their own country, because in 15 years’ time, the size of the Chinese economy will be as big as that of the United States,” Tung said.

“If you say ‘what happens outside has nothing to do with me’, you will miss out. Almost all countries around the world want to hitchhike on the Chinese [economy] to create their own prosperity, so why not us?”

Earlier this week, Tung had told the Post in an exclusive interview that Hong Kong should revive its film industry, which had its halcyon days in the 1980s and early 90s.

He said on Saturday: “When you reignite the [film] sector, there will be a lot of job opportunities for young people.”

Tung also reiterated his warning against advocating for Hong Kong independence, a stance increasingly popular with young activists.

He said: “I had discussed with pan-democrats and I feel that they are mostly willing to accept ‘one country, two systems’, but it’s undeniable that there are people on their side who don’t accept it and are pushing for independence instead. That is wrong.”

Hong Kong’s education system ‘not forward-looking enough’ for the modern world, says former leader Tung Chee-hwa

Tung was Hong Kong’s first post-colonial leader for eight years after the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

Reflecting on his tenure from 1997 to 2005, Tung said Beijing had been very supportive of Hong Kong’s economic and social progress.

He recalled that in 2003, in the aftermath of Hong Kong’s Sars epidemic, Beijing offered to sign the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Hong Kong to help the city’s economy recover.

The central government also rolled out the individual travellers scheme to allow residents from a list of mainland cities to visit Hong Kong without joining a tour group.

On the governance of outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying, Tung said Leung had made “unique contributions” to Hong Kong by tackling problems such as housing and land shortage.

“He came up with solutions for some critical problems facing Hong Kong. At least he laid the foundations and did a lot in the last five years,” he said.

Tung added that he was confident Leung’s “capable and wise” successor Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor would take Hong Kong to new heights.