Mainland exchange is good, as long as it’s not forced, say students

Young Wang |

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Leaders say young Hongkongers and mainlanders can bond over dance and cosplay.

Find what interests young people and use that to support youth exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland. That’s the message golf resort chief Ken Chu Ting-kin delivered in Beijing last week.

“Young people from the mainland and Hong Kong have a lot of common interests, such as comics and video games. Organising joint events or [sports] competitions will provide more channels to enhance communication,” Chu, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), proposed.

The issue came to the fore for Hong Kong delegates after CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengsheng called on members to engage with the city’s youth.

CPPCC member Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said young people should deepen their understanding of mainland policies and it was important to focus on their interests to sustain that engagement.

The city’s shared Cantonese heritage with Guangdong province could also generate job opportunities, said conference member George Lung Chee-ming, who chairs the Hong Kong Youth Exchange Promotion United Association. Students from Hong Kong had already glimpsed some of the possibilities open to them through visits to technology companies such as Tencent in Shenzhen.

Chu, who runs the Mission Hills Group, said exchanges could start at the secondary school level.

“Tapping into areas that young people are delighted to see and hear will make exchanges more effective,” he said.

Schools from the mainland and Hong Kong should organise more small-scale, one-off sports events, in addition to those organised at the national level.

Other areas such as cosplay events, street dance competitions, and musical and cultural activities were also platforms for communication, he said.

HKU student Jonas Wong said all of that sounded good, but results were more important. “Action speaks louder than words. The CPPCC meeting, in order to be effective, must also extended to include further follow-up actions,” he said.

Not everyone is convinced, though. “The idea of exchanging culture is good, but the central government can be a little pushy,” said Joy Pamnani, a student in PLK Ngan Po Ling College. “They must make sure these exchanges aren’t forced like the recent controversial [proposal] to have HKU students make at least one trip to the mainland.”

Irisa Kwok, a student in King George V School, feels it won’t even get that far. “Feelings and emotions that have nothing to do with statistics will make this proposal crash and burn,” she said.