Young Hongkongers get set to take on the Greater Bay Area as summer youth scheme kicks off
More than 1,000 young people, mainly university students, have signed up to the programme that will see them visit cities included in Beijing’s economic integration plan
About 1,200 young Hongkongers will fan out across Macau and nine Guangdong province cities this summer, in search of business opportunities and friendship in China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area” plan to develop a business powerhouse to rival Silicon Valley.
A ceremony to launch the youth scheme was held on Tuesday, as vice-premier Han Zheng visited Shenzhen, ahead of Beijing rolling out a blueprint to detail the role each of the 11 cities, including Hong Kong, would play in the economic integration plan.
Most of the youngsters who signed up are university students, said the chairman of a pro-Beijing community federation whose member groups had organised the visits.
The groups had received support from propaganda organs of mainland cities – United Work Front departments – whose role is to boost the influence and soft power of the Communist Party.
Leung Leung-shing, who leads the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations, which has 24 groups with a total of 350 members, said: “There was no political screening. All youngsters who care about the national development, who want to understand the country better, who want to integrate in the area for starting business, are all welcomed.”
The groups had advertised the summer trips to anyone between the ages of 18 and 35. The first group would set off in June, Leung said.
The community groups, he said, were also in touch with United Work Front departments in the cities, so that the Hong Kong youngsters could have exchanges with their peers from across the border.
“I hope they could be friends through the exchanges and interactions … and could learn from each other,” he said.
Hong Kong’s No 2 official Matthew Cheung Kin-chung attended the launch ceremony, together with a deputy head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, and the heads and deputies of the propaganda departments from the Guangdong cities.
Cheung added that the government had been working hard to increase upward mobility for youngsters, and one way was boosting the number of Hongkongers who go on exchanges and internships in mainland cities.
In the coming year, the government aims for a total of 19,000 youngsters to participate in such programmes.