Han Zheng

Beijing tells liaison officials in Hong Kong to learn Cantonese and develop better connection with city’s residents

  • Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng pushed for the training, which has seen officials attend classes after work
  • Hong Kong Academy of Management runs the courses, and source says at least now ‘they can understand what officials are saying’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 10:52pm

More than 200 non-Cantonese speaking officials in Beijing’s office in Hong Kong have been studying to master the language, on the instruction of Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng.

A source told the Post that Zheng, who is the top official responsible for affairs in Hong Kong and Macau, pushed for the training so staff could better connect with the city’s residents.

Wang Zhimin, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, has been trying to set a good example for the other members of the office.

The source said that when the director first arrived in the city from Fujian he did not speak any Cantonese, but he had been “trying very hard to learn, and now his command of Cantonese is pretty good”.

Hong Kong Academy of Management undertook the task of teaching the officials Cantonese, with most classes taking place after regular office hours.

Cantonese is not going away, so speak it loud and speak it proud

According to the source, most officials were “very enthusiastic and keen to learn”, and with a high attendance rate staff members were passing with good grades.

The source said while officials spoke with their own accents, “at least we can understand what they are saying”.

Besides the late night courses, the liaison office has been trying other means to improve the team’s Cantonese by organising volunteer events, such as cleaning up Heng Fa Chuen, and Silverstrand beach after Typhoon Mangkhut.

The activities provided an opportunity for officials to mingle with the public, so they could practise their Cantonese.