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Greater Bay Area

Most young Hongkongers not interested in ‘China’s answer to Silicon Valley’, survey shows

Pro-Beijing group’s survey finds young people less than enthusiastic about Greater Bay Area plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 9:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 11:01pm

Most young Hongkongers do not intend to work on the mainland as part of Beijing’s plan to rival Silicon Valley by integrating Hong Kong and 10 neighbouring cities, according to a survey.

The Chinese government’s “Greater Bay Area” project aims at forging a business powerhouse across Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province. The bay area stretches over 56,600 sq km, covers 11 economies that were worth US$1.36 trillion in 2016, and has an estimated population of 66.7 million.

In recent months, Hong Kong politicians have said that the integration plan would help to solve various problems faced by Hong Kong’s businesses and young people. 

In a report released by the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, the plan was also described as offering “unprecedented” opportunities. But the Hong Kong Youth Power Association, a pro-Beijing group, found that young people were not that excited about it.

The association, led by a group of Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) politicians, interviewed 878 local young people from March to April, and 58 per cent said they would not consider working or living in the mainland cities covered by the plan.

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Asked to choose from a range of reasons, 57 per cent said they did not know what the plan was all about, while 42 per cent said they did not want to be too far from Hong Kong.

The association’s president Kwok Wai-keung, an FTU lawmaker, said the survey showed that the Hong Kong government needed to do more to promote the Greater Bay Area project among the young.

“Young people should be relatively less resistant about new ideas … but in terms of [legal] protection, housing and starting their own businesses, the cost might be too high for them,” Kwok said.

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According to the survey, 61 per cent of young people said they would be more willing to work on the mainland if there was a government-backed start-up fund. About the same proportion of young people said a housing subsidy or similar measures would help. Interviewees were allowed to choose more than one option.

In March, the Hong Kong government set up the Youth Development Commission, a high-level advisory body, to address issues around youth education, career prospects and home ownership. 

Kwok proposed that an additional body be set up to help young people tap into opportunities offered by the bay area project.

“It can organise training courses to equip the young … It can also come up with policy recommendations to supplement the work of other advisory bodies,” he said.