Proactively fuse into the country’s overall development
Hong Kong will shine brightly as before
18 October 2020
Speaking on Wednesday (October 14) to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, President Xi Jinping stressed that active move should be taken to promote the construction of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), describing it as the country’s major development strategy that presents a myriad of historical opportunities, while the new practices of “One Country, Two Systems” should be enriched. His speech has charted a clear direction in guiding the people of Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao and even the whole country towards prosperity and vibrancy. To Hong Kong, his speech is of unique and meaningful significance.
Hong Kong’s role in every milestone of national development
Over the past 40 years, the country’s reform and opening up has yielded phenomenal achievements with significant rise in comprehensive national power and people’s living standard. Hong Kong always has a role to play in the country’s reform, opening up and modernisation. While the city has rendered historical contribution to the country, the reform and opening up of the country have in turn fostered the development of the city. Hong Kong has been a witness and a player, a contributor and a beneficiary throughout the journey of national reform. Without the country’s reform and opening up, Hong Kong’s accomplishments could never materialise.
Leveraging our unique advantages
Since its reunification with the motherland, Hong Kong has been enjoying unique dual advantages brought about by the successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”. As a highly open and international city, we have a business environment that is open and facilitating as well as offering professional services that are of excellent quality. By amalgamating its strengths as an international financial, transportation and trade centre and an aviation hub with the vast markets, industry systems and the relative advantages of the other nine GBA cities, Hong Kong can help bring in foreign investments and know-how on the one hand, and join hands with Mainland enterprises to go global for tapping overseas markets and opportunities on the other, thereby contributing to the economic development of the GBA. Meanwhile, we will capitalise on our advantages in scientific research to facilitate the development of the GBA into an international innovation and technology centre. It is worth noting that foreign chambers of commerce in Hong Kong look greatly upon and have high hopes for the GBA’s future development and business opportunities.
Expanding the scale of opening up and taking the lead in economic recovery
As President Xi said, drastic changes unprecedented in a century are unfolding in the world, and the COVID-19 global pandemic has expedited and catalysed these changes. Although economic globalisation is facing headwinds, China would certainly ride out the storms and stand four-square to expand the scale of opening up in a holistic manner. China’s unwavering commitment to deepening the reform and opening up is well manifested to the world in this remark.
The prevailing global scenario suggests that the pandemic has dealt to the world economy a heavy blow unprecedented in a century, plunging it into deep recession. Although major economies like the United States (US) and Europe have started to pick up steam in the third quarter, the epidemic has been seesawing in many places and hampering the pace of economic revival as a whole. Since it is quite unlikely for governments around the world to relaunch a whole lot of responsive measures, the revival journey ahead would inevitably be rather bumpy, and it may take longer time to revert to the pre-pandemic level of activities. Meanwhile, as the country has been taking resolute measures to curb the epidemic, its economy has taken the lead to stage a rebound and the momentum of recovery is accelerating. According to updated forecast on global economic growth released recently by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Mainland will be the only major economy that will record positive growth throughout the year 2020. IMF forecast of the Mainland’s annual economic growth will be 1.9% whilst the economy of the US and the Eurozone will contract by 4.3% and 8.3% respectively.
Given the complexity and severity in the global scenario, President Xi put forward a “dual circulation” development pattern encompassing domestic and international circulations. Efforts should be made to expand domestic demand, step up supply-side structural reform, champion a highly open economy and enhance the capability of independent innovation. Capitalising on its advantages under “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong should boost its strengths of being financial, trade and commercial centres, and continue to contribute enormously to the international circulation in the country’s economy. On the other hand, Hong Kong has to expedite the integration with the Mainland and play a pivotal role in the larger domestic circulation. The GBA development will provide a platform for us to take part in this circulation pattern.
Youth work is the top priority
President Xi has called on Shenzhen to attract more young people from Hong Kong and Macao to study, work and live on the Mainland by fully utilising the important platform of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao co-operation, thereby promoting wider and comprehensive exchanges and deeper integration among young people of the three places as well as strengthening their sense of belonging to the motherland.
Hong Kong students studying on the Mainland
In recent years, many Hong Kong students have chosen to study on the Mainland where there are quite a number of renowned universities. The programmes offered by Mainland universities are of a greater diversity than those in Hong Kong, and certain subjects are even much sought after by Hong Kong students. As at July 2020, about 16 200 Hong Kong students are studying at Mainland higher education institutions and graduate schools.
Multiple study pathways and exam exemptions for Hong Kong students
The Ministry of Education launched the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions (the Scheme) in 2012/13. Participating Mainland higher education institutions will consider admission applications of Hong Kong students based on their results in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, thus exempting them from taking further examinations. There are altogether 122 institutions under the Scheme, covering 22 provinces/municipalities/autonomous regions of the Mainland. Up to 2019/20, about 3 800 Hong Kong students have enrolled in Mainland higher education institutions under the Scheme.
Bolstering higher education in the GBA
The HKSAR government supports Hong Kong tertiary institutions in fostering multilateral and interdisciplinary collaboration with other GBA cities, giving full play to the characteristics of Hong Kong’s higher education sector and its strengths in terms of internationalisation, and promoting research activities of high academic level in the GBA.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist University have offered educational services in Shenzhen and Zhuhai respectively. Several other universities of Hong Kong have already rolled out their plans in offering education services in various GBA cities. Among them, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is proactively taking forward the campus development project of the HKUST (Guangzhou). The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPolyU) signed a Framework Agreement with the Foshan Municipal Government at the end of last year to jointly prepare for the establishment of the HKPolyU (Foshan). Besides, the City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) entered into an agreement with the Dongguan Municipal Government in January this year to prepare for the establishment of the CityUHK (Dongguan), while the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) formally signed a co-operation agreement with the People’s Government of Zhaoqing City and Zhaoqing College in April this year to prepare for the establishment of the OUHK (Zhaoqing).
Continuous enhancement of Mainland exchange programmes
To foster students’ understanding of the country and develop their sense of national identity, the Education Bureau (EDB) has been organising or subsidising Mainland exchange activities with different themes. Starting from 2017/18, around 100 000 exchange quotas are provided every year by the EDB, which is sufficient for every student to join at least one Mainland exchange programme in both their primary and secondary school years. The GBA and a number of Mainland cities along the Belt and Road are included in the programme itinerary. School visits will also be arranged for forging pleasant exchanges and friendship among students of the two places.
Nurturing good nationals and citizens
Hong Kong is an inalienable part of the country, and it is a pressing task to help young people learn about the country and fuse into the country’s development. We hope to build up students’ understanding, respect and affection for their country, nurture them to become responsible nationals and citizens, and enhance their sense of national security and law-abidingness. It is the intrinsic duty of schools to implement national education. My expectation is for schools to step up educational efforts pertaining to the national anthem and national security based on the teaching of the Constitution and the Basic Law. The Government will continue to provide multiple support for schools and teachers through teacher training, life-wide learning activities as well as learning and teaching resources.
Hong Kong shares the same future with the country and relies on its strong backing to maintain our prosperity and stability. The city has evolved from an obscure fishing village and a light industrial base to an international financial centre, a trade centre as well as a shipping and logistics centre. Hong Kong has been boasting competitive edges globally in its own right, earning recognition and support from the country while enjoying top notches in international rankings.
In face of the challenges ahead as well as the twists and turns in the global economic landscape, regional economic co-operation has become a world trend. Hong Kong will go from strength to strength, strive for excellence and thrive amid adversities. The city will continue to harness its strengths by leveraging its unique status and roles bestowed by “One Country, Two Systems”, and integrate with other regions with a more innovative, forward-looking and embracing mindset. All these will help bring about an all-win situation that complements one another and contribute to the greater course of the country’s future economic development.